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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Faux Stowe Crackers (WHB#116: rosemary)

go directly to the recipe

recipe: Faux Stowe Crackers made with flax seeds, pepitas, rosemary, pecans and left-overs from feeding wild yeast

Once more, even though it isn’t the weekend, here is my post for

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB #116) – Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

(click on image for larger view)

Faux Stowes Two summers ago, along with a selection of fabulous cheeses, I was given a box of the most wonderful crackers, Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps. The crackers are available throughout Canada and the USA. And they are delicious. But at their price, they really are only for special occasions.

Or so I thought.

This past summer, one of my sisters-in-law brought faux stowes as part of her offering for the family dinner. They were just as fabulous as the real thing and she claimed they weren’t all that difficult to make.

It turns out she’s right. Even though they require double baking, they’re dead easy. And they’re delicious! And being home made, MUCH less expensive so they can be for every day rather than just special occasions.

I made a few changes to the recipe my sister-in-law copied out for me. I used dried rosemary instead of fresh.

I had to use dried rosemary. Unlike my lucky western relatives’ rosemary, our rosemary does not survive outdoors in the winter. I have a small rosemary plant in the basement but it’s so spindly that removing even a teaspoon, let alone a tablespoon of leaves would render the poor little plant leafless.

And I omitted the fruit (I forgot to put it in…) I also added the left over sludge from building up my wild yeast to the batter. I’m positive that this is not a necessary addition. It’s a great way to use up the discards though!

Here’s what I did to make the crackers:

Faux Stowes
double the recipe to make twice the amount

  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds
  • ½ tsp seasalt
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary (or ½ Tbsp fresh)
  • discarded sludge from wild yeast buildup, optional*
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (demerrara)
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • ¼ c pecans, chopped
  • ¼ c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sesame seeds
  • ¼ c raisins or dried cranberries, optional

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Stir flour and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Use a pestle and mortar to coarsely grind the flaxseeds, salt and rosemary. Set aside.
  4. Stir in buttermilk, sugar and molasses. Also add the left over sludge from building up wild yeast, if using.
  5. Stir in nuts, seeds, salt and rosemary. Also add the fruit, if using.
  6. first baking:Pour the batter into the parchment lined loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean.
  7. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. (The bread can be eaten at this stage – it is delicious!)
  8. making the crackers: Preheat oven to 300F. Slice the bread as thinly as possible.
  9. second baking: Place the bread slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for a total of 30 minutes – 15 minutes per side.

Allow to cool on a rack before eating or storing in a tin.

Notes:
* Please note that the wild yeast sludge is my addition to my sister-in-law’s recipe. I’m certain that it is completely unnecessary. It’s just a great way to use what would normally be discarded from the wild yeast buildup. Waste not, want not….

bread for Faux Stowes As I was slicing the bread to put onto the cookie sheet, T tasted a piece and insisted that I leave half the loaf unsliced because it was so delicious that way. And he’s right! It really is good.

It also leads me to believe that any muffin recipe could be baked in a loaf pan, sliced and turned into Faux Stowes.

Sadly, the rosemary flavour got lost – but I suspect we would have found something lacking if I had left out the rosemary. When we have an abundanced of fresh rosemary, I’ll have to try these again. Maybe I’ll remember to add the raisins too!

And next time, to get our crackers to look even more like Lesley Stowes’ crisps, I’m going to put a fold of parchment paper lengthwise down the middle of the loaf pan so that the finished bread will create square slices.

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Admittedly, fresh rosemary really is preferable to dried. Dried rosemary is quite brittle and can have a bitter taste. It also loses its beautiful green colour and turns to a quite dusty grey green. Not exactly the most appetizing colour.

However, it is very easy to grind and because it is so strong tasting, it is one of the herbs that retains a lot of its flavour and aroma.

Please read more about rosemary:

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen This week’s host for the wonderful weekly event, WHB, is Rinku (Cooking in Westchester).

For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

 
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This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf: Faux Stowe Crackers

  1. Comment by Kalyn — 15 January 2008 @ 23:35 EST

    How delicious, and how great that you found a recipe for something you’ve loved. Your idea for creating square crackers is brilliant too.

  2. Comment by Mats Flemstrom — 16 January 2008 @ 11:10 EST

    This post brings back memories of my biscotti making days in the 90’s. They appeared to be magical things (they are) but turned out to be simple to make – sweet or savoury.

  3. Comment by katie — 17 January 2008 @ 13:19 EST

    That’s my kind of baking – lots or ‘optional’. I also love making savory snacks. For some reason I think if they’re not sweet they have no calories. Works for me!
    They look lovely…I’d send you some fresh rosemary from my bush if I thought it would survive the sniffer dogs…

  4. Comment by MrsBrown — 17 January 2008 @ 21:05 EST

    My book club meets about every 6 weeks and invariably someone (richer than I…or perhaps less cheap than I!) brings some Leslie Stowe crackers. Whenever I see them at a more up-scale grocery store than I usually frequent, I always stare at them longingly. Sometimes I pick them up but I always put them back because I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on crackers. I can’t wait for the next book club meeting so I can make some Faux Stowe Crackers AND I can make them with fresh rosemary!

    While I realize it says optional, I’m a little concerned about the ingredient “discarded sludge from wild yeast buildup” as I don’t have wild yeast. Since I don’t know what wild yeast sludge does, I wonder if I’m supposed to use ANY yeast? Perhaps this is a foolish question.

  5. Comment by ejm — 17 January 2008 @ 23:43 EST

    The wild yeast sludge is absolutely optional, MrsBrown. (Thanks for pointing out that confusion. I’ve put a note on the recipe now.) My sister-in-law did NOT include it in her Faux Stowes because she didn’t have any. The only reason I added it to our crackers was because I had the sludge and couldn’t bear to throw it out. I can’t imagine that it adds all that much to the crackers.

    Yes, indeed, they are so ridiculously simple to make, aren’t they, Mats?

    Thank you for the offer, Katie. I’m hoping that the little rosemary plant I have in the basement will survive the winter so that it can flourish next summer so that I too will be able to harvest fresh rosemary winter and summer.

    I only wish I’d thought of folding the parchment paper before baking the loaf, Kalyn! I suppose I could have cut each slice in half to make squares but duh… I didn’t think of that either. Heh. Better late than never….

  6. Comment by Cathy — 11 December 2008 @ 18:37 EST

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I have been a big fan of Lesley Stowe’s crackers forever (I’m a Vancouverite who lives not far from her original retain outlet). I’ve baked off the loaf part of the recipe this morning and will cut and do the second baking tomorrow, I’m very excited! A quick question, my loaf didn’t rise very much – it’s around 1 – 1 1/2 inches high. Does that sound about right or might I have done something wrong? I didn’t add any yeast. Is there a chance the crackers will spread/grow a bit during the second baking (I’m thinking no…)

    Thanks again for the recipe,
    Cathy

    You’re most welcome, Cathy. No, it doesn’t rise very much, and I don’t think it matters if you put yeast in or not. The crackers don’t spread on the second baking. But do watch for burning! Hope you like them. Do let me know what you think. -Elizabeth

  7. Comment by Cathy — 14 December 2008 @ 19:43 EST

    Thanks for the response, Elizabeth.

    They turned out really well. I cut them in half before the second baking so I got a nice sized cracker. Although, next time I think I will use a slightly smaller (narrower) loaf pan to make them a bit higher.

    I love how they taste! And so do my husband and three-year old who also are big Raincoast Crisp fans… This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    By the way, I used chopped dates as my fruit. Nice but either not sweet enough and/or too few for my taste. Next time I think I will try dried cranberries and upping the level of fruit from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup and see how that goes.

    Thanks again for sharing this recipe.

    Happy Holidays,
    Cathy

    I’m so pleased to hear that the crackers turned out well, Cathy. Isn’t it nice to know that you don’t have to pay the somewhat astronomical amount for actual Raincoast crisps and can make reasonable facsimiles at home? Good idea to use dried cranberries! -Elizabeth

 

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