Cooking is magical - it transforms inedible seeds (wheat berries) into delicious crackers through a fairly simple process. We grind the seeds, sift the resulting flour even finer, then add water to that flour and apply some heat to it. Thanks to the kind folks at King Arthur Flour and other notable mills, we can skip the first two steps and it becomes even simpler.
The first time I made these crackers, I was testing recipes for the New York Times Magazine, using white spelt flour instead of all-purpose. The excitement I got and still get when I see kids and adults make them for the first time is the reason I love to cook and teach.
Today, with all the stress and screens and impersonal correspondences in our lives, we all could use a little hands-on, delicious, inexpensive magic.
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring surface
Coarse sea salt, any kind of seeds (sesame, poppy) or herbs (rosemary), for topping crackers (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in the cold water. Add the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until combined. Knead the dough a few turns until a ball forms. Divide the dough into two equal rounds.
2. Flour an overturned 12-by-17-inch baking sheet and roll the dough out on top of it, using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking, until the dough stretches as thin as it can – nearly the size of the baking sheet.
3. Using a pastry brush and a bowl of cold water, lightly brush the stretched dough with a little water to give it a glossy finish. Prick the dough all over with a fork. If you choose, sprinkle with sea salt or seeds. For neat crackers, score the dough into grids with a chef knife.
4. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden and snaps apart, 15 to 20 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook.) Break into pieces and serve. Repeat steps 2 through 4 with remaining dough round. Makes 2 cracker sheets.
Note: You can substitute white spelt flour for all-purpose flour. Use 1 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon instead.