My fellow students are always amazed when I tell them I run every morning. They’re even more amazed and as one put it – a little demoralized – when I tell them I get up at 5:30 in order to run before those occasional 8am classes.
Tu ne jamais fait une grasse mat?* They ask me.
La grasse matinée: in other words, a lazy morning, late morning, a morning when you sleep in. Well, after a few years of getting up early, it’s almost impossible for me to sleep late. So unless you count une grasse matinée as being 8am, then no. I never have a lazy morning.
Such was the case on Sunday. We set our clocks back in France on Saturday night, and while it did grant me an extra hour of sleep, I was indeed up at 7:30 am wondering what I should do now…
I remembered that I had a little box of edamame hummus in the fridge. An impulse purchase from Friday when I went shopping at the local Co-op on an empty stomach. Oh, the folly. And what the heck was I going to do with the hummus now that it was sitting in the back of the fridge, surrounded by cheese and tofu and ham and nearly forgotten.
Crackers seemed to be a good option.
Only I don’t have a rolling pin. Nor do I have much work space. But I really wanted crackers, and I had found a recipe for homemade wheat thins by Smitten Kitchen that didn’t look all that intimidating.
No rolling pin? No problem. I have a few empty wine bottles in the house. With careful pressure and a good dusting of flour, a wine bottle makes a perfect improvisatory rolling pin.
I have to admit when I was putting the ingredients together I was a little skeptical about the proportions of butter and water to flour. It just didn’t look like enough. I replaced the paprika with cayenne pepper but with only ¼ teaspoon, I didn’t believe I’d be able to taste it.
And I was wrong. On all accounts. The dough had a perfect moisture and was easy to work with. It baked up crispy, sweet and savory all at once, exactly like a wheat thin from the box. Yes, I tasted the cayenne pepper – enough to pique the taste buds. The buttery flavor is addictive and they were great for lunch with the hummus and some Gouda cheese – another impulse purchase from the Co-op.
If you’ve ever been intimidated by the cracker (I was) or find yourself up at 7am on a Sunday with nothing to do, never fear. These will solve all your problems and ease your fears.
One more early morning. One more tasty treat.
*You never sleep in?
- 155 g whole wheat flour
- 1½ tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp table salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
- 55 grams unsalted butter, cold is fine, cut into small bits
- ¼ cup water
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, paprika and butter in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add ¼ cup of cold water, stir with spoon until combined. Knead once or twice to get a homogeneous ball.
- Heat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin well. Roll your dough out, half at a time, to a large, very, very thin rectangle-ish shape. As thin as you can possibly get. Frequently check to make sure your dough isn’t sticking; if it is, gently scrape a spatula underneath to lift it, then flour the counter again. Using a knife cut dough into even squares and dot crackers with a toothpick or fork. Smitten Kitchen give much more specific proportions and techniques, but I just used a fork and tried to make sure the squares were equal and it was fine.
- Transfer the crackers to the baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes. Some of mine were a little thick and took 10 minutes to cook. If the edges start to brown, that seems to be the golden time to take them out of the oven. Just keep an eye on the ones that are thinner so they don’t burn.
- Let cool. Start eating. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container.