Raincoast Crisps – Golden Raisin & Pecan/ Cranberries & Hazelnuts : Daring Bakers Challenge, February 2013
This month’s hostess chose Raincoast Crisps and Crisp Flatbreads for us Daring Bakers to bake. Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!
I had never heard of Raincoast Crisps before. Apparently they are a gourmet crisp/ cracker snack, made in a variety of flavours by a company owned by Parisian-trained chef and bestselling cookbook author Lesley Stowe. A little research on the net suggests that these crackers are wildly popular in the US and some of the phrases being used to describe them included “Everyone’s favourite cracker”, A quick elegant snack”, “Truly amazing and crisp”, “Perfect with a glass of wine”, “Unbelievably fabulous”, and “The most fabulous cracker ever made”!
People seem to find them addictive and though they’re said to be on the expensive side, the one redeeming quality (apart from their taste), is that they’re made from natural ingredients.
After looking at photographs, reading descriptions, and baking them for myself confirmed it, that the Raincoast Crisp is very similar to what we call “Rusk” or “Toast Biscuit” in India but is thinner and loaded with dried fruits and nuts. Or you could compare it to Biscotti, which is also a twice baked and crisp biscuit.
So this Raincoast Crisp was beginning to look very attractive to me, all the more so because of the added attraction that this recipe calls for very little sugar and no butter, oil or fat in any form. No added fat in a bake? That is probably a mentionable first in a Daring Baker challenge! This month’s challenge includes recipes for other crunchy stuff like Spicy Corn Crackers,Onion Poppy Seed Crackers and Herbed Flatbread.
I live in a country where things like cranberries, hazelnuts, pecans and the like are not grown locally. These days they are available as imports but are quite expensive. Luckily, I still had the last of the stash of these that my sister brought me when she last visited, and it was about time I put them to use before they became unusable. I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used watermelon seeds instead.
This recipe is pretty accommodating that way and you can really substitute whatever dried fruit or nuts or seeds you have on hand so you can flavour the Crisps according to your taste. The challenge recipe said the recipe made about 8 dozen crisps, and it does provided you slice the loaf into really thin slices. Now that may sound like a lot but it really isn’t. What the recipe makes is two small loaves which are sliced to make a hundred crisps!
Since I was making these Crisps for the first time, and I wanted to try out both the Golden Raisin Pecans and the Cranberries Hazelnuts versions, and I’m always happy to snack on a little non-calorific bit of crunch, and I didn’t want over 200 Crisps, so I worked the recipe a little differently.
I divided the recipe equally (half of every ingredient and then half quantity, that is 1/4 cup each of the golden raisins and pecans in one bowl and the same of dried cranberries and hazelnuts in the other one) between two mixing bowls. So I had 4 dozen Crisps of one kind and 4 dozen of the other.
- As I metioned earlier, I baked this batter into two small loaves each flavoured differently. The above recipe will make two small loaves of the same flavour. If you want to do what I did, have 2 mixing bowls ready and put half of each ingredient listed above into each, except the nuts and raisins. Then in one put in 1/4 cup each of golden raisins and chopped pecans and a 1/4 cup each of dried cranberries and chopped hazelnuts in the other.
- Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few times till partially mixed. Add the raisins (or dried cranberries), pecans (or hazelnuts), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into two7” or 8”x4” loaf pans that have been oiled/ greased. Bake them at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool the loaves on a wire rack.
- Let the loaves completely before slicing them. Even better, wrap them in cling wrap after they have cooled and then freeze them over night because the cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. Take the loaves out of the freezer and leave them at room temperature for about 20 minutes, Using a sharp and serrated knife, cut the loaves into very thin slices (as thin as you can manage without breaking them) using a sawing motion.
- Place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them at 150C (300F) for about 15 minutes. Then flip the slices and bake for a further ten minutes or so till they have become quite crisp and a deeper golden colour. Make sure they don’t burn. The crisped slices will turn crisper when cool. You can cut the slices into halves before baking them, if you prefer smaller sized Crisps.
- Once completely cooled, store the Raincoast Crisps in an airtight container at room temperature. They should keep for up to 1 month, and upto 3 months if frozen. I wouldn’t know because my Crisps were gone in under a week! This recipe makes about 8 dozen Raincoast Crisps.