Saturday, January 14, 2012

Amy's Easy Lentil Crackers

I have been trying a no-sugar thing lately, as I've been feeling like sugar gives me headaches. I came up with a high-protein cracker recipe to get me through my morning snacktime sugar-free and satisfied, and I'm pretty happy with the results! I went through a cracker phase last year but was never satisfied with all of the elements... so I winged it, then tested it again before unleashing it on you here. Bon appetit!

A pastry wheel is best for nice fluted edges, but you can also use a pizza wheel. I don't recommend using a knife.

1/2 c red lentils
1 1/4 c boiling water

--> pour water over lentils in your mixing bowl and let sit one hour. Or all day, or overnight, depending on your schedule. You can also use leftover cooked lentils, or let them soak just 10-20 minutes in a blender and then blend them. Whatever. I let them soak 1 hour and then used a handheld soup blender. You can just use whole soaked lentils - as long as you can break them with just a bit of pressure with your thumbnail, that's fine.

Now, preheat to 350 degrees F.

70g cheddar, finely grated (if you're vegan, or fasting, use 1/2 c finely grated carrot - I haven't tested it but as long as it's grated finely enough, or possibly pureed, it should work - you may need a touch more fat in the recipe).

70g looks like this much - it's about 1/2 c packed down when shredded.

1/3 c coconut oil or butter (solid fats are better for this recipe - use liquid oil if you must but the texture will be off. You can get fragrant organic coconut oil for around $10-11 or cheap Chinese market shop refined - that is, unfragranced - coconut oil for about $4). 1/3 c is about 60g.

1/8c-1/4c sesame seeds (or flax, or you could probably use chia or amaranth if you're into that)
1 tbsp each dried oregano and sweet paprika
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp-1 tsp cayenne (I used 1/2 tsp myself which was not hot enough for my taste - it was just a hint of spice with no real heat)
3 c bread flour - if you use La Milanaise organic whole wheat bread flour, this is 430g. (Why bread flour? Bread flour is formulated to have a high protein - gluten - content, which I wanted to use here to boost the nutritional/tummy-filling value of the crackers - but if you don't have bread flour use whatever.)

--> Mix ingredients well until the dough forms a ball. With an electric mixer, it will be clumpy when ready - when combined, test with your hands to see if it holds together nicely.

NOTE: This recipe has NO leavening agents - this is not an omission! You want thin, crispy crackers, and you want your fluted edges to keep from being distorted - so you don't want to add baking powder or they will puff up and not be nice.

Roll out a handful of dough, flouring the dough and surface, turning and re-flouring as often as you need to. Roll it out like crazy. When you think it's as thin as it can get - roll it out more.

Like this!

Now, the next trick of crackers is baking surface - you must use a porous surface - parchment paper or a baking stone. In practice, it's got to be parchment paper. The stone would be crazy and messy. So just do it. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet. (The recipe makes about 6 sheets so have another one or more at the ready if possible.) If you must be an obstinate rebel, you can bake them directly on the cookie sheet, but they might be less awesome.

Transfer your thin dough to a prepared cookie sheet, trimming as necessary. (If the Queen Mother is coming, you can pre-trim with your fluted pastry wheel into a rectangle, to make sure each and every cracker is pretty - but I have a toddler and little spare time so I don't bother.) Now that it's on the sheet, cut into strips, then squares.

See? There is a natural unevenness to the dough that you can work with - just strategically cut it up where there are weird lumps at the perimeter.

And then into squares. As you cut, your wheel might drag the strips over themselves, so go slowly. You don't need to space them apart at all - the cut dough will often naturally shrink away from each cut, and since you're using parchment paper (right??) you'll get aeration that way too. After baking you may need to break them apart just slightly with your fingers.

Get a second sheet ready while the oven is still preheating. Pop them in two sheets at a time (assuming you have two racks - pack more or less in as you have room for).

Bake 20 minutes. Underbaking with make them soft, like baby crackers, and overbaking will make them smokey and less delicious. As a rule of thumb, they are ready when each sheet has a perimeter of about 2 crackers of the size depicted that are clearly, but not deeply, browning. It is better to underbake than overbake - if you realize they are not crisping up on the racks, you can just pop them back in to toast some more, whereas there's no such correction possible if you overbake.

The crispy edges at the forefront are what you want to see.

Cool on racks (important for air circulation and developing crispness).

I stored mine in a big gallon-size jar. A canning funnel is handy for packing them in there but isn't necessary.



  1. Very, very nice. I'd never thought of putting lentils in crackers! I can't really tell from your photo, but did you separate each cracker a bit when you separated them with your pastry wheel?

    1. Oo thanks for asking - I forgot that important detail! No, no separation needed. Will edit post.

  2. Replies
    1. air should surround the crackers equally to keep any part from becoming soggy or remaining hot (as would happen if you left them on a hot sheet); to make sure they dry and crisp evenly.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Yo Amy, what is the difference between sweet paprika and regular paprika?

  5. Well the difference really is between sweet and smoked. Sweet and regular mean the same thing I believe. Smoked tastes ... smokey. :) lol. Either one would probably be fine really!

  6. I absolutely LOVED this post. Pictures are on point! I am hoping to get the pastry wheel tmrw before I see you so I can FINALLY make this beautifulNESS

  7. I need to hire you as my personal chef.

  8. Have you ever tried making your crackers with a sourdough starter? I like the idea of fermenting grains (helping to denature gluten and breaking down phytic acid) to aid in digestion. Also have you tried using sprouted lentils?

  9. Great question! I am all about sourdough. You can add a tsp yeast to this and let it ferment a day or two, or use kefir in the place of water, to cate a soaked version. I have been gluten-free for over a year, so I play with cracker 2.0 gf recipes, especially since this has been one of our most popular posts, but haven't found the silver bullet yet.

    That said, there is no way to denature gluten. As far as I can tell, from my reading on food blogs and from my understanding of gluten chemically, fermenting will not un-gluten anything. It is a dangerous myth, in my perspective. If days of fermentation helps somebody digest wheat who thought they had a gluten allergy, they never had one to begin with. I am open to correction with references. Such is my position.