Tag Archives: poppy seeds

Romantic Seed Crackers

OK, so more hearts! Why? Because…love is crackers? But worth it? And love is a good base for other things, just like a good cracker?

Fine, fine, I’ll stop trying to use bad humour to justify another heart-shaped post. Truth be told, I was really just looking for another excuse to use the rather splendid copper biscuit cutter that I was given as a present back in November, and it does seem such a shame to use it only at Christmas. And so I’ve made my seed crackers, but this time with a bit of a romantic twist.

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Of course this is not a new recipe – I first posted this about five years ago (five years ago!), but I think it is worth featuring again as it really is great. These are really double seed crackers – the simple dough (wholemeal and buckwheat flour, plus salt, oil and a dash of honey) is livened up with ground seeds, and then there are more on top for crunch and to give them some visual appeal. You could use whatever you like and/or have to hand, but I’ve used pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds.

If you make these, be prepared for “the alarming bit”. The poppy seeds and buckwheat flour make the dough a rather unappealing grey colour, but when they bake, the crackers take on this gorgeous conker-brown colour, making a handsome addition to a cheeseboard or any selection of dips.

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If you’re feeling creative and really want to work a heart theme, you can also cut out toppings using your cutters – slices of cheese, pieces of vegetable or whatever else you want. Otherwise, just throw them in a bowl, and use them to scoop up obscene amounts of hummus!

heartcrackers3

For around 50 crackers (depends on size):

• 40g sesame seeds
• 30g pumpkin seeds
• 20g sunflower seeds
• 10g poppy seeds
• 120g wholewheat flour (spelt flour works too)
• 40g buckwheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• water, to bind
• egg white, to glaze
• seeds, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Mix all the seeds together, and blitz in a grinder until you have a fine powder. Don’t go too far, or they will become oily. The poppy seeds might stay whole, which is fine.

3. In a bowl, combine the ground seeds, flours, salt, honey and oil. Mix well.

4. Add enough water to make a dough (around 75-100ml, but it will vary depending on your flour). It should be smooth, but not sticky. Add more flour if needed.

5. Roll out the dough as thin as you can on a floured surface. Cut out the crackers (either use a cutter or cut with a knife or pizza cutter).

6. Brush each cracker with a little beaten egg white, and sprinkle over some seeds.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crackers become brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. If you’re doing lots of different shapes and sizes, bake in batches of the same size to ensure they don’t burn.

Worth making? These are excellent! Quick to make, with delicious results.

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury

Pirishkes

This is a recipe for Jewish honey-poppy biscuits that I saw recently on the Saveur website. It was simply a case of “oh, those look nice, I’ll try them”.

I love poppy seeds (stick ’em in a cake and I’m right in there) and I happen to have a rather large stock of honey, so some seasonal cookies that combined the two seemed to be a particularly timely idea.

The original recipe is here (in good old cups and other odd measurements!) but I’ve halved it and converted the quantities into grams, which is my preferred way of cooking. But what I realised about thirty seconds after starting was that I actually had no idea what I was making. Never made them before, never seen them, never eaten them. So rather then my sometimes slap-dash approach to recipes that I know well, I had to follow this one with forensic precision. Well, almost forensic precision. I halved the amount of salt, and doubled up on the poppy seeds.

The resulting cookies have a very traditional old-fashioned flavour to them. They are like a rich shortbread, with the poppy seeds lending the biscuits an earthy flavour and a pleasant “pop” as you eat them. You could happily leave them as rich crisp poppy biscuits, but I was also keen to add the honey syrup. May as well go the whole hog.

Now, when it comes to the syrup, I really didn’t know what would happen. I assume that it would end up a little like baklava, with all the honey syrup being absorbed by the biscuits. Well, I arranged the cookies in a try, poured over the honey syrup, and it sort of flowed over the biscuits and seeped between the gaps. After the suggested ten minutes, the biscuits were still very crisp and just a bit sticky. Maybe this was right, I don’t know. But left overnight, the biscuits did indeed soak up most of the honey, and stayed firm with just a little honey squelching out of them. And like this, they were very delicious indeed. Honey and the popping of poppy seeds.

To make pirishkes (makes around 25 pieces):

• 225g plain flour
• 40g poppy seeds
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt, finely ground
• 55g icing sugar
• 55g butter, softened
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 egg
• 170g honey
• 40ml water

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a two deep baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl, mix the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, beat the sugar, butter and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. You can do it by hand, but it’s easier with an electric beater.

Add the egg, mix well, then stir in the flour mixture until you have a soft dough. It will seem quite dry, so use your hands to bring it all together.

Divide the dough into two portions – roll each part out to 1/4 inch (just over 1/2 cm) thick. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes.

Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, and bake for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden at the edges. In the meantime, put the water and honey in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Once the cookies are ready, transfer them onto one sheet while still hot (the diamond shapes should fit together quite tightly), and pour over the hot honey. Leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, but they’re still pretty good the day after.

Worth making? These are very unusual little biscuits, but if you are a fan of baklava and similarly sweet-and-sticky biscuits, then I think you will like these. If you want to vary things, it would also be a nice change to swap the vanilla extract for lemon or orange zest.

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Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

Super-Healthy Seed Crackers

I’ve recently had a real thing for seeds, and have been adding them to lots of things. Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds in salads, sunflower seeds in muffins, muesli and cous cous, sesame seeds on ice-cream. They just bring that little extra something to a dish. Don’t believe me? Well, in Vienna, you can even have vanilla ice-cream with a drizzle of nutty, green pumpkin seed oil. Very chic. If you see pumpkin oil, I urge you to buy it. Makes a fantastic salad dressing and a rather groovy green risotto.

So…if seeds are so good, why not try making something that focuses on the seeds and makes them the star, rather then just expecting them to be support actors? My initial idea was to make some sort of sweet muesli bar, but mostly with the seeds. Then I realised that I have put so much sweet stuff on this blog and I wanted to try being a bit healthier after indulging a little bit too much on holiday, so it had to be something savoury. A few minutes online and I found, via the ever-useful LA Times, a handy overview of all things seed cracker related. To the kitchen, and start experimenting.

I worked out a recipe based on a standard cracker recipe, and mine worked out really well. The dough came together easily, and was a doddle to roll out and cut. Sometimes pastry is a complete nightmare, taking on its own personality and stubbornly refusing to do what you want it to do. Then you finally get it into a decent shape, and in the oven it throws another tantrum and does crazy stuff like puff up on one side only, or shrinks and looks a bit of a mess. But not this one. It just took a little flour and a rolling pint to get it to about 3 mm thickness, then I cut the crackers out using a knife. Before I baked them, I glazed with a little beaten egg and sprinkled over a few more seeds. If you want that glossy looks-like-its-been-varnished look, then egg is the way to go. After baking, the turned a dark tan colour, and had kept the square shape I had been looking for. Result.

And how did they taste? Really good. There is nuttiness from the various seeds and the buckwheat flour, and just the tiniest hint of sweetness from the honey, and the poppy seeds keep a little bit of crunch and pop in your mouth as you eat them. And of course, them make a delicious foil for a huge slice of mature cheddar, which I think is the way all crackers want to be eaten. Delicious!

For around 50 crackers (5cm x 5 cm):

• 40g sesame seeds
• 30g pumpkin seeds
• 20g sunflower seeds
• 10g poppy seeds
• 120g wholewheat flour
• 40g buckwheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
• water, to bind
• egg white, to glaze
• seeds, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Mix all the seeds together, and blitz in a grinder until you have a fine powder. Don’t go too far, or they will become oily. The poppy seeds might stay whole, which is fine.

In a bowl, combine the ground seeds, flours, salt, honey and oil. Mix well.

Add enough water to make a dough (around 100ml, but it will vary depending on your flour).

Roll out the dough until 2-3mm thick, cut out small rectangle or squares, and place on the baking sheet.

Brush each cracker with a little beaten egg, and sprinkle over some seeds.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crackers become brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Worth making? These are delicious and (probably) nutritious. They were a big hit with everyone that tried them, so will happily be making them again. Good if you want to feel a little sophisticated next time you serve up some good cheese.

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury