Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sprouted Grain and Poppy Seed Crackers

I never knew you could sprout poppy seeds. When looking for my next kitchen project, I thought I'd give Sally Fallon's sprouted grain crackers a try, and began a 4 day sprouting adventure on some of the tiniest seeds in the world. Poppy seeds happen to be one of my most favorite things, I assume because they naturally pair well with almond extract, an elixir I'm fairly sure I could drink straight up and not feel too bad about.

I had poppy seeds in mind for my Daring Baker Challenge this month (I'll make that next week, and post it on the 27th as usual). In looking up information on the poppy seed and ways to make them into pastes, I discovered that there are between 1 and 2 million seeds in a pound - 3300 seeds making up a single gram. They are an oily seed, and as I've actually noted firsthand, they can go rancid rather quickly. Prior to my project, I got what is considered the finest poppy seed in the world, Dutch poppy seed, from the Spice House. I'll admit, I was actually wondering all the while if they would actually sprout, and what in fact the sprouts would taste like. They did sprout, and were surprisingly tasty.

I'd say that they no longer had their characteristic nuttiness, but more of a "sprouty" flavor, still packed with a fair amount of crunch. I used about half of what I sprouted in the crackers, and ate the rest for lunch on sourdough flatbreads spread with hummus and radishes. It was probably one of my favorite lunches in recent memory - the tiny sprouts reminding me of a vegan caviar.

On about day 3 of the sprouting, I re-perused Sally Fallon's recipe, and noticed that the sprouted wheat wasn't supposed to be dried - that the seeds and grains should be sprouted and then mixed up into a paste, then the whole of it dehydrated together. I knew that I didn't have enough waiting time to sprout up some more wheat (and besides, I only had hard wheat for bread-making on hand). I poked around for a new recipe to use some of the sprouted, dried and waiting-for-me-in-the-freezer soft wheat I did have.

I discovered a site that is probably no secret to most people, but it was new-to-me: Cheeseslave. I had heard of Cheeseslave, but never ventured over before, and now I have just one more devoted place to stop by on my Internet rounds. I knew right away after mixing up the cracker dough that I was smitten...

I found that rolling the somewhat soft dough between layers of parchment worked the best for me. I cut the parchment to the same size as my dehydrator trays, and then cut them into squares with a pizza cutter and slid the whole works into place. One new benefit I've discovered and love about dehydrating is the extra exercise it gives me - my set-up is in the basement, and I have to make several trips down there to load it and keep checking on it. Ann Marie (a.k.a. Cheeseslave) says that you can also bake the crackers, which would give them a nice toasty color. But despite their paleness, these are really packed with flavor. I made a half batch (the amounts listed below) just to test it out, but next time, I'll double everything and make better use of the dehydrator space.

Sprouted Grain and Poppy Seed Crackers (slightly adapted from Cheeseslave)
  • 2 1/2 c. sprouted wheat flour (purchased, or make your own)
  • 1 c. yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, mostly melted
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted with the butter
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • about 1/4 c. sprouted poppy seeds
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or by hand), combine sprouted flour with the yogurt. With machine running, add in the butter, coconut oil, baking powder and salt and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. Add in the sprouted seeds last, and mix until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into cracker size pieces - whatever shape or size you like. Transfer dough (I left it on the parchment) to a food dehydrator tray.

Dehydrate at 150 degrees or less for about 16 hours until fully dry and crisp. You can also use the low temperature oven method described by Cheeseslave, or bake them (on the parchment) on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

When fully cooled, I stored mine in the freezer to ensure their freshness (and discourage myself from eating them all right away).

The crackers are surprisingly crisp and rich, but due to their fat content they are still amazingly delicate. They are rich enough, however, that I didn't feel like I couldn't stop eating them - just a few 2-inch square crackers were plenty for me. These taste like the most delicious wheat thin that you could ever imagine, and I would almost swear there was an addition of cheese to them too. That sprouted grain has such a specific, nutty sweetness to it... it's impossible to describe, and it's perfect in a cracker.

About half-way through the dehydrating process, I slid the parchment out from underneath the crackers.

I could see immediately a hundred different uses for these crackers - but since I'm trying Julia's awesome jam on everything lately, I tried that just after eating one plain. It was like a truly fancy dessert, one that upscale places serve that embrace both savory and sweet. The cracker almost took on a pie-crustiness that made me feel wildly trendy: like I could pull off charging $12 for a plate of 4 of these delectables. I smirked all the more knowing that I was tasting it mid-morning with no one else around to have to share with.


  1. Well, aren't those perfect?

    I must admit, I never thought about sprouting poppy seeds myself, though it makes perfect sense. After all, you can grow them into flowers :) Bet they also make delicious crackers. I love that delicious nuttiness you describe that's present in sprouted grain goods. So worth it.

  2. Those crackers (with or without said jam) are incredible. You never fail to amaze me with your nonstop curiosity and follow through! Not to mention those gorgeous photos.

  3. I would never have thought of sprouting poppy seeds! I've spent a lovely half hour looking through your blog and catching up with what you have been doing! I haven't got around to the sourdough because there is too much in my life at the moment but I am reading and learning. Thanks for the push (into sourdough baking) - I needed that!

  4. wow, what an adventure! My mom used to make crackers because she couldn't see spending money on something you can make:) I remember rolling and cutting them. I never thought of them as a treat, but I can see they are. Amazing!


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