These Activated Charcoal Crackers are seriously, seriously good. They may not be your usual mix-roll- and-bake crackers, as they require creating a poolish, which means preparing ahead of time. If you have no idea what a poolish is, do not shy away from this recipe. It just requires some planning, and other than that, those crackers are made in a breeze. Poolish is what actually gives these crackers their seriously good flavour.
Activated Charcoal had its moment as a hype product in 2016, so it is easy to find in specialty stores online. It should be in powder form and labeled as an edible product. It is supposed to have a few health benefits, or whatever; but in baking it is mainly used to naturally give baking goods a black colour, without the use of artificial colours. Thanks to its addition, these crackers have a dark-grey colour, they are attractive and remarkable.
Colour apart, these crackers are light, thin, crispy and super tasty. They have a distinct flavour and a strong character. They are perfect as a vessel for all bites imaginary. They are ideal to snack on at any given moment. And they are also warmly welcomed when brought along at friends’ gatherings . They should make an extraordinary addition for your next Christmas hamper. And to addition to it all, they store well for a long time.
Activated Charcoal Crackers
- Prepare ahead: make the poolish 12 hours before making the dough
- Make the dough. Knead. Let rise (1-2 hours)
- Roll. Bake for 12 minutes (two batches)
- Cool (10 minutes)
for the poolish:
- 1 ½ tsp. activated charcoal (in powder form)
- 100 gr / 3.5 ounces all purpose flour
- pinch of instant dry yeast
- pinch of salt
- 100 gr / 100 ml / 3.4 fl. oz. tepid water
for the crackers:
- all of the prepared poolish above
- 200 gr / 7 ounces flour, press here for flour suggestions
I use a combination of flours: 100 gr ( 3.5 ounces ) whole wheat and 100 gr ( 3.5 ounces ) whole rye flour, which give a lovely, hearty taste. But you can use whatever you have handy. All purpose flour works just fine. Wholemeal flour is more recommended, as it adds a deeper and more complex taste. Depending the type/types of flour you will use, you will have to adjust the liquid-flour proportions, by adding more liquid or more flour to obtain the right consistency of the dough
- 1 pinch instant dry yeast
- 1 ½ tsp natural fine sea salt
- 15 gr / 1 Tbsp. honey
- [Optional: for a darker colour – as pictured – you may also add 1 Tbsp. molasses. Without it the final colour of the crackers is dark grey. In terms of taste, I prefer them without the molasses.]
- 70 gr / 75 ml / 5 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. or more, as needed, liquid of choice, like buttermilk / milk / water
Step 1 – Plan ahead, prepare the poolish
12 hours before the time you are planning to prepare the dough, prepare the poolish. In a medium bowl put the flour, charcoal, yeast and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the water and stir with a spoon until just combined. Cover with a damp towel and leave at room temperature for 12 hours.
Step 2 – Prepare the dough
After 12 hours you may see a few holes forming on the surface of the poolish. It should have a distinct, pleasantly sour smell by now. These are indicators that the poolish is ready. You should use it within the next two hours; after that it will go stale. troubleshooting
If no holes are formed it may be because your kitchen is too cold; put it at a warmer spot in your house for one more hour.
In a medium bowl add the 200 gr flour, pinch of yeast and sea salt. Whisk to combine.
In a cup measure the olive oil. Add the honey, (molasses, if using) and liquid of choice, stirring well with a fork to dissolve. Pour this around the edges of the poolish. Using a rubber spatula gently push the edges of the poolish to release it from the bowl.
Pour everything into the flour. Using the spatula, begin by mixing everything to combine. Continue mixing by hand. It should gradually absorb all the flour and form into a dough. If not, add 1 tablespoon of your liquid of choice. Alternatively, if the dough is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time.
Step 3 – Knead the dough
Turn it out to the counter and knead with your hands for 5 minutes; your dough should gradually start feeling smooth and firm. hint
You may use an electric mixer should you like, it is just always easier to understand the consistency of the dough when kneading by hand. Plus, kneading is relaxing and fun, just put on your favourite song and enjoy the whole process.
When the dough is ready, put it in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave it to relax for 1-2 hours. Half an hour before you intend to bake, preheat the oven to 200º C / 400º F.
Step 4 – Roll and cut the dough
Divide the dough in two. Dust the counter lightly with flour and roll it out to 1 cm / 0.5 inches thick with a rolling pin. tip
The dough should by now be relaxed and roll out easily. If it shrinks as you roll it, leave it to relax for half an hour before re-attempting to roll.
Transfer it to the baking paper you are going to bake it on and continue rolling it out as thin as possible. tip
If it extends beyond the edges of the paper, trim it and continue rolling. You may use another piece of baking paper to flip it over and roll. This helps it roll it out very thinly.
Using a pizza cutter wheel cut the dough into 4 cm ( 1.6 inches ) squares . Leave trimmings intact; these are the baker’s treat. Transfer the baking paper along with the crackers to a baking tray.
Step 5 – Bake the crackers
Bake for 12-14 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven immediately if they start taking a yellowish hue at the edges. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool and breaking them to pieces.
In a like manner, repeat with the rest of the dough.
Step 6 – (If necessary) Rebake the crackers
The crackers should be crispy when cooled, after 10 minutes. If not, you will have to double-bake them.
Test by breaking one or two in half, they should snap (choose some from the center of the tray). If not, lower the oven temperature to 150º C / 300º F (preferably fan setting, if available). You may need to leave the oven door open for a few minutes to help the temperature drop.
Transfer the crackers back to the baking tray and rebake till crisped; it may take from 5 – 10 minutes. Check for crispness by breaking one in half. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, arranging them in a single layer.
Double-baking may be done up to a day later.
Storing: keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to two weeks.