Sourdough Rye Crackers With Coriander and Fennel Recipe

[Photographs: Tim Chin]

Crackers are the go-to option for many bakers looking to use up excess sourdough starter. At its simplest, the process is a breeze: Mix some starter, flour, and salt until you get a rough dough; roll it out, bake it, and you’ve got yourself some serviceable crackers. You don’t need to worry about kneading, proofing, or any of the countless pitfalls of baking sourdough bread. Sourdough crackers should be forgiving, and shouldn’t demand much thought.

These crackers are inspired by ones I used to make at BISq restaurant under Alex Saenz. Back in those days, I saved all the tiny, unusable broken cracker scraps from each batch and stored them in a deli container; later in the night, if I got a little peckish, I’d go to town on them with a spoon. While that recipe doesn’t include any sourdough starter (it’s still amazing without it), the bones of my recipe are similar. Rye flour serves as a foundation for nutty, earthy flavors. Sparkling white wine like Champagne or cava adds both sweetness and a fruity kick to the crackers that plays nicely with the funky sourness of the starter (if you don’t have the wine, a sparkling cider could work too). Cracked coriander reinforces citrus and sweet notes, while the subtle licorice flavor of fennel seed sneaks up on you with each bite.

The resulting crackers are thin, shatteringly crisp, and feature a dark, caramel color. They’re salty, sweet, and lightly tart—perfect for a cheeseboard. And because you bake them in large sheets, they can be broken into various sizes to suit your entertaining or snacking needs.

Why It Works

  • A blend of all-purpose and rye flours lends both structure and earthiness to the cracker dough. The rye flour also produces a darker, richer color when baked.
  • Sparkling wine provides sweetness, acidity, and slight carbonation to the cracker dough, resulting in a crisp cracker that isn’t dense.
  • Chilling the dough allows the dough to relax slightly, making rolling easier.
  • Rolling the dough between parchment ensures minimal mess and a uniform thickness.
  • Yield:Makes 3 half-sheet pans of crackers
  • Active time:25 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces; 105g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces; 85g) rye flour
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (4 1/4 ounces; 120g)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) sparkling white wine, such as Champagne or Cava (see note)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, cracked
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds, cracked
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, rye flour, sugar, and salt until combined, about 60 seconds. Using a silicone spatula, stir in starter, champagne, and olive oil until mixture is smooth and combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a clean hand, gently knead dough and form into a round ball. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide dough into three equal portions. Working with one portion of dough at a time (keep other portions in the refrigerator), place dough between two sheets of parchment paper sized to fit a rimmed half-sheet pan. Using a rolling pin, roll dough until it fills dimensions of parchment and measures roughly less than 1/16th inch (1.5mm) in thickness.

    Sourdough Rye Crackers With Coriander and Fennel Recipe

  3. Slide parchment with rolled dough onto rimmed half-sheet pan. Gently peel off top layer of parchment and reserve as the bottom parchment layer of the next batch. Sprinkle dough with coriander, fennel seeds, and flaky salt. Bake until deep golden brown and uniform in color, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Let cool until crisp and no longer hot to touch. Gently peel off cracker sheet from parchment and break into large pieces. Discard used parchment.

  4. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining two portions of dough and additional parchment paper as needed. Crackers can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Special Equipment

Rimmed half-sheet pan, rolling pin, parchment paper

Notes

The sparkling wine adds flavor and needed carbonation to the cracker dough; small single-serving cans of sparkling wine can be a good option here if you don’t want to open a whole bottle. Sparkling cider can work as well.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Crackers can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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