Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homemade Yogurt and Rye Crackers

A desire to offer my growing (and ravenous) daughter the best foods possible, I am continually resisting the urge to purchase convenience items. The equation is simple: an extra person(s) in the household equals extra pressures on time, yet this extra person is literally making large developmental leaps. . .daily. No arguing, babies and children need the best of what we can offer when it comes to mealtime, meanwhile mealtime often arrives without warning.
Recognizing the likely-hood of my daughter befriending someone in grade school who goes home to a pantry stocked with Little Debbies, she will at some point be given the opportunity to partake (I did my fare share of this after all). For now, I do what I can within my scope of control. When I hand her one of these crackers, it is satisfying to know it contains only local rye, local whole wheat, full-fat yogurt, sea salt and butter.
The end.
Ha! I wish. I could stop here and let you hold onto the image of me- happily baking off batches of homemade crackers in my neat little apron, and handing them one-by-one to my grateful child. But I will keep going.
Here is the reality behind offering my child this cracker certifiable by purists: it took the majority of my evening in addition to some prep the morning prior.
I blended the dough in the wee hours of the day, covered it and let is sit until after dinner that night. Then bath time, jammies, kitchen clean-up, and intermittent story book reading.
Preheat oven. Divide dough into quarters. Roll out first batch.
Sleepy, cranky, teething baby is ready for bed. Put her down. Place crackers in oven. Roll out second batch. Baby wakes up. Pull crackers from oven. Run to the bedroom. Teething baby soothed and back to sleep. The third batch waits. Why haven't I poured a glass of wine yet?
In the end, the four divided fistfuls of beautifully soured dough were rolled, cut and baked into flaky, tender crackers. Was I ready for a massage and my book afterward? Yes. Will the dog be permitted to scavenge cracker scraps from the floor? Over my dead body. We will be eating every single morsel, regardless of where the renegade pieces land? Yes. Even if a mud puddle claims a mishandled bite, it will be rinsed and enjoyed, that's a promise.
Why would I share this if I am also encouraging the recipe on you? Because it's the truth, and nothing is more sacred than the truth.
Looking over the gorgeous food photography and blogs flooding the web these days, one may think only special people are able to make real cooking effortless. This is bull.
Who wouldn't like to skip hours of food prep for the glass of wine with your feet propped up instead (regardless of how much you love to cook)?
I believe it is becoming more important than ever to unveil the realities behind cooking and preparing wholesome food from scratch. Food shows get edited, and so do food magazines, and so does any food blog (ahem). Ever flip through your food magazine and notice a picture of a sweating line cook swearing profanities to high heaven, or a pile of dirty pots and pans as the backdrop to a perfectly styled plate of paella? It's easy to freeze reality momentarily to pose for an image, in turn, creating an image which is lovely, but false.
It takes time, very precious time, effort, and forethought to prepare wholesome food. Oh and then all those dishes.
My question is, what are we looking to save time for? And is time really savable anyway? It doesn't fit into a lock box nor has The Bank recognized its value. Either way, if "saving" time equals sacrificing our health is it worth it?
Undoubtedly this question has to be weighed against the circumstances. Some evenings will require rest and relaxation (or other priorities) over being in the kitchen to preserve not only sanity but other aspects of our health. But our nation will be unable to transform its colossal health crisis until each of us spends more time in the kitchen.
This said, homemade crackers will not secure a place in foodie heaven either, but I aim to go to the grave making a mess out of my kitchen and devouring the wreckage; dragging my family along for the ride. If only you wanted to see pictures of such, I would have plenty to share. Until then, enjoy the serenity of well styled food, give in to the realities (and fruits) of labor, and make sure to celebrate the chaos behind-the-scenes. Your time spent is not in vain.

Homemade Yogurt and Rye Crackers ~Recipe adapted gently from Nourished Kitchen~
  • 2 high quality rye cups flour (I used Wren's Abruzzi Rye available here), plus extra for flouring the counter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1 cup full fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Stir three cups whole grain spelt flour and one teaspoon unrefined sea salt with one cup full fat yogurt in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Continue to process until the dough forms a smooth ball.
  2. Place the dough in a mixing bowl and cover it with a tea cloth. Leave the dough to rest at room temperature overnight and up to twenty-four hours.
  3. Once the dough has rested overnight or up to a full day, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Knead one-half cup softened butter into the dough, then divide the it into four separate balls to make rolling it more manageable.
  5. Flour your working surface and your rolling pin, place one ball of dough into the center of your work surface and roll it to 1/8-inch. Cut the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter, or into triangles or squares with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
  6. Brush each unbaked cracker with melted butter, prick with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing and bake in an oven preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit until brown and crispy, about six or seven minutes.
~Thanks to Jenny at Nourished Kitchen for the original recipe! Enjoy!


  1. Rachel, what a true story, I had to think about my time with the kids when they were small. "But our nation will be unable to transform its colossal health crisis until each of us spends more time in the kitchen.", yes , I fully agree and it should start in our schools with the education of our younger ones. What an amazing story to read, thanks Rachel.

  2. Like nearly all things in life, quality takes time and effort. I'd so much rather take the time to do it right now than be robbed of good health in a future time. But you're so right, it can be discouraging when a recipe takes twice as long as promised and is then scarfed down in 20 minutes. I still want to make these crackers. :)

  3. Ha! Well I would love to see pictures of such. Lucky girl of yours. Even if preparing whole foods based meals from scratch takes longer (and there will always be dishes), it is satisfying and is always worth it to take of one's self. I loved this post :)