Laura has been keeping gluten free for twenty years now and has developed recipes and strategies for making truly decadent and delicious gluten free dishes for every occasion. She shares this wealth of knowledge on her blog, Mama Laura's Kitchen . She has most graciously consented to do a guest blog here. I saw her recipe for sourdough discard crackers on her Instagram account, gfgirlmamalaura. Not only do I think baking homemade crackers is super rewarding, I am also always looking for ways to use sourdough starter discard. I also love that those bakers who need to keep gluten free can join in the sourdough craze, yay!
I was going to write a little biography of Laura’s baking life, but she has done such a good job of it herself, I decided to crib the bio from her blog and reprint it here. Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your recipes with us. Without more ado, here is Laura:
“As I start this blog, I thought I'd tell you a bit about myself. I didn't always love cooking. Growing up I was the official "baker" in the family. By the time I got married at age 21, I really knew very little about cooking, but I could follow a recipe, just like any good baker could. My husband began to show me in the kitchen that it was about trying new things, moving away from the exactness that baking required and being adventuresome (something that didn't come easily for me.) Soon I found that I liked trying new recipes and making up different twists on dishes. Much of my inspiration comes from trips we have been on or from my heritage: my Italian grandparents and my grandmother (Rosina ~ we liked to call her Rose, showing me how to cook many Italian dishes, pasta sauces, soups and dessert
Every Sunday my family would head to my grandparents for our pasta supper at exactly twelve noon. Delicious sauce was at nearly every meal at their house as was opera to entertain us after dinner. At the time I could have probably done without the opera, but looking back I know it was adding culture and love of music into my heart. I was fascinated with the old books that lined my Grandpa Joe's shelves. One by one I would read their titles and see which one I wanted to borrow. The books had journeyed with him from his days of teaching English as a second language to Italians. Now, many are featured on my bookshelves, memories of so many times in that house. And although there was a fair amount of arguing and yelling at times (we Italians do have tempers,) I really mostly remember the good times, good food, family, walks through the garden, and shelves of books to be read. I remember fondly my grandmother showing me the ways of the Italian kitchen. I am hoping to share a little of what I've learned with you ~ I will also be sharing many of my own gluten free recipes, as for the past 20 years I have been eating completely gluten free after suffering many years with an undiagnosed severe gluten allergy.”
~Laura Sampson, (updated July 2021)
Now blended flours have come a long way in the past years, but I still want to control what is in the “blend” that I am making. Many purchased blends have added dairy, added cellulose (which my body does not tolerate), xanthan gum, and other emulsifiers, plus lots of other ingredients that may be unneeded for a particular recipe.
Here we have a simple cracker recipe, using gluten free sourdough discard. These crackers are so addicting! My husband, who does not need to eat gluten free, not only loves them, but also can't stay away from them! It's okay, I'm fine with sharing, because they are so simple to make and use the “discard” from my sourdough starter, which I'm always looking for new, fun ways to use. Just a few ingredients to stir together, then spread them on the pan and pop in the oven, and in about thirty minutes, you have crispy, savory, herb crackers! The best part of making your own gluten free crackers is that you can make any flavor combination you like. This week I made one pan of rosemary and garlic and one pan of sun- dried tomato and herb. Last week I had lots of chives from the garden I wanted to use, so I made fresh chives and cheddar crackers. The possibilities are endless! This recipe makes two pans worth, so there are plenty to share with family and friends, pop on a charcuterie board, or just grab a few to snack on. They stay crisp for about 6-7 days sealed in an airtight container.
My daughter, who is dairy intolerant and gluten free, tried making these without the cheese and said they are still delicious and even still taste like cheese! This is due to the sourdough starter in them. The tangy sharp taste resembles the taste of sharp cheese (plus they are buttery...yum). They taste like an incredible Cheez-it cracker, except way better! Enjoy! And I challenge you to not eat them all at once! I’ve included a substitute if you do not have a gluten free sourdough starter. See below for the recipe for the “biga” dough overnight fermentation.
In all my recipes, I have noted with a “gf” after the ingredient, for each ingredient which needs to be labeled gluten free, if you are accommodating someone who has Celiac or gluten intolerance. Even herbs and spices, vanilla, chocolate, flour types which are by nature gluten free, all need to be labeled and certified “Gluten Free” in order not to have cross-contamination. If you cannot find the certification on a product, look for ingredients that are made in a facility that does not process gluten.
Bake time: 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, 15-28 at 325 degrees F
Yields: 4-5 dozen, depending on the size of crackers
- 1 cup sourdough starter, discard or unfed starter is fine, or overnight biga**
- ½ cup packed (49 grams) almond flour, almond meal or hazelnut flour, gf
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons very soft or melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, gf or 1 clove garlic crushed
- ½ cup (36 grams) finely grated parmesan, pecorino Romano or asiago cheese, optional
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, gf or other dried gluten free herbs (oregano, basil, thyme or a mixture of a few kinds) crushed a bit with a mortar and pestle
- ½ teaspoon coarse or flaked salt
- ¼-½ teaspoon of dried rosemary, gf (or other dried gluten free herbs)
- 1-2 teaspoons finely grated parmesan cheese, pecorino Romano, or asiago cheese, optional
2. With a mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary and coarse salt together for topping. Pour into a small bowl. Stir in one to two teaspoons of parmesan cheese (if using cheese). Set aside.
3. Stir together in a medium bowl, the sourdough starter or “biga”, almond flour or meal, olive oil, butter, salt, garlic or garlic powder, cheese, and herbs to get a smooth batter.
4. Line two stone bar pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough evenly between the two pans, and spread with a rubber spatula until very thin and even on both trays. Using a spatula dipped in a small amount of water, or your fingers dipped in water, smooth the top of the cracker dough. Sprinkle with the topping ingredients, reserving enough for the second pan. Repeat the process for the second pan.
8. Remove the remaining crackers from the oven when crackers are crispy and golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks before breaking on the score marks and removing from the parchment to an airtight container (whatever is left after you enjoy some!)
**If you don’t have a gluten free sourdough starter to use, you can make an overnight “biga”, a dough fermentation which is similar in texture to sourdough starter. Into ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (112 grams) of cool water, stir ⅛ teaspoon of active dry yeast (a gluten free brand). Stir briskly and make sure some bubbles form before adding 1 cup (110 grams) of gluten free millet or gluten free brown rice flour (Ryze Gluten Free Flour Mix, yellow bag, is also fine). Cover loosely with cellophane and let sit on the counter for 18-20 hours. The mixture should be bubbly at this point and will yield the 1 cup of gluten free “sour” dough needed for this recipe. The result will not be quite as tangy, but it will still result in a slightly sour crispy cracker.