Have you been to the West End Well yet? It’s a co-operatively run grocery, café, and meeting space in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood. The first time I went in to check it out, I stumbled upon a bag of their made-in-house rosemary olive oil crackers and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have an addictive texture, a subtle flavour, and a perfectly salted finish. I just can’t get enough of them! So, I embarked on a mission this past weekend to replicate those tasty little crackers.
While at the winter Farmer’s Market at Aberdeen on Sunday I picked up some red fife whole grain wheat, they grind it for you, right before your eyes at the Castor River Farm booth. After I got my fill of all the other farmer’s market treats, I headed over to Whole Foods and found some Bob’s Red Mill semolina flour. That’s it! That’s all you really need that you probably don’t have at home already.
Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped, fresh rosemary
optional ingredients – spices or finely grated cheese to sprinkle on crackers before baking
Whisk together the flours, rosemary, and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using your hands (or a mixer with a dough hook attachment on medium speed) mix and then knead the dough for 5 – 7 minutes, on a floured counter. The dough should be just a bit tacky – not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.
When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into six equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees.
When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin shape into a big flat rectangle. The thickness of the dough is up to you, I rolled mine very thin, not see-through thin, but pretty close. You can cut the dough into whatever shape you like at this point, but try your best to make them all the same size, because they won’t cook uniformly in the oven when their size varies. Place the pieces of dough on a floured (or cornmeal) dusted baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings you might like (salt, pepper, cheese, paprika) and slide the pan into the oven. I tried out different toppings on each ball but found I enjoyed a nice simple sprinkle of sea salt best. If you find the toppings aren’t sticking well, just roll your rolling pin over them gently to press them into the dough.
Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. Bake until the edges start to get a dark golden brown but the whole cracker isn’t. Cool on wire racks. The time in the oven will depend on how thin you rolled your dough; I found that 5-7 minutes was enough time. Try for 5 minutes and then check them out, see if they need another minute or two. If you rolled them a little thicker, they may need 10-12 minutes.