Gluten Free Crackers – A Mother’s Day Gift
For some time I have been promising my son that we will take a trip by locomotive to visit Grammy, so a few days before Mother’s Day my husband dropped our little boy and me off at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. I find it surprising that a city which displays such disdain for mass transit possesses a station so fantastically appropriate for a first true train ride. The greatly designed front entrance opens up to a large and impressive waiting room filled with massive chandeliers and row upon row of wooden Art Deco armchairs. This waiting room, in turn, opens onto a lovely courtyard which is a pleasure to stroll within. To catch a train you must enter into an underground hallway from which all train platforms ascend. Walking this corridor hand in hand with a two year old I was suddenly struck by how magically overwhelming the multiple sounds of rolling trains, hissing brakes, and clanging bells must be for a small person who has devoured such a multitude of train books. My son marched along with a purposeful stride I have never seen in him before. It was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement. The train ride was everything I hoped it would be for my son. I even found myself feeling overly pleased by a lot full of garbage trucks, an industrial pipe wholesaler, and the concrete banks of the oh-so-shallow LA River.
As excellent as the commuter train ride was, the time we spent with my mother and step-father was even better. My son was thrilled by loads of attention from two of his favorite people. It was non-stop squealing and smiling from my son. Again, the excitement and pure happiness were contagious and us adults did a whole lot of grinning of our own.
My mother is unable to eat gluten which means I am unable to share my baking with her. The first time I baked crackers I thought of how much I would like to develop a version for my mom. However, I know very little about the chemistry of gluten free baking and could never create a recipe on my own. With Mother’s Day only three days away it seemed like the perfect time for the perfect gift of creating a gluten free cracker recipe together. I do not know who the gift was from or to! I think we contributed equally in the giving and receiving. We had a wonderful time learning from each other and creating together. My mother now has a great basic cracker recipe to add to her repertoire and is dreaming up new ideas for more combinations of herbs, seeds, and flours. She will never again have to feel like she is missing out on wheat crackers! I had the fortune to gain some experience and greater understanding of a whole new way of baking. My son also jumped in on all the fun, taking the happiness to an even higher level. This is a memory we will always have of a special Mother’s Day spent doing and sharing together. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! We love you!
Gluten Free Crackers by a Mama and her Mother
- 1 ¾ cups amaranth flour
- 1/8 cup sweet rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca
- ¾ cups arrowroot or cornstarch
- ½ cup almond meal
- ¼ cup flax meal
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp flax seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp dried, crushed rosemary
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- Sea salt for sprinkling lightly on top
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
Add and stir dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in the oil. Slowly stir in the water. My mother tells me that it is important not to over mix when working with gluten free flour. Form a ball of dough with your hands. You might require a little extra amaranth flour to keep the ball together. You want the ball to hold together. You do not want to open the ball up and find that it is soggy inside.
I separate the dough into five or six balls as I go along. I do this as I go along, but you can also do it before you begin to roll out your dough. Each ball will become a cookie sheet full of crackers. If you don’t use all the dough at once (I never do), you can store the unused dough in a closed container in the fridge for a few days.
Roll out the dough on a generously floured piece of parchment paper placed on a hard working surface. (Each side of the parchment paper can be used once and then you will need to begin again with a new piece). We used rice flour. You will need a generous amount of flour on your rolling pin, as well. Add more flour to both your rolling pin and to the rolled surface of your dough if the dough sticks to the rolling pin.
The most difficult step of making gluten free crackers is the rolling. I have had a lot of practice rolling out my other crackers so it was not too difficult for me to get this dough thin. Try to make the most of each roll that you make so that you end up with the thinnest layer possible while at the same time not over rolling the dough. This means placing a fair deal of weight onto the roller.
The thinner the crackers, the more delicious they are. I suggest you roll them as thin as you possibly can. You might find that each time you bake these crackers you are able to get them even more thin. There is definitely a learning curve here.
I suggest that when you are close to rolling out the dough as thin as you intend to, that you no longer roll the edges but instead focus your energy on the center. This will keep the edges from being thinner than the rest and will allow the dough to bake evenly. This is especially helpful if you have an oven that heats unevenly. Don’t worry too much about this step. Your crackers will still be great even if they are unevenly cooked.
Transfer to a cookie sheet that is NOT greased. My mother and I flipped the parchment paper of dough upside down onto the cookie sheet and gently peeled away the parchment paper from the dough that was now resting on the cookie sheet.
Use a paring knife to cut a grid into the dough. Support the dough with the index finger of your opposite hand while you cut your lines in. These lines are where the crackers will break apart after baking. Use care to prick each square once or twice with a fork. Sprinkle sea salt on top. The extra salt really helps bring out the flavor. Too much salt will mask all the wonderful floavors of amaranth, rosemary and thyme.
Bake for 12-20 minutes or until light gold and dry. Our oven time was 14 minutes. However, baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the crackers and on individual ovens.
Cool on the cookie sheets and then break apart the crackers. Store in a closed container.
Enjoy! So far these crackers have received rave reviews!
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