Can't find crackers to fit a low-carb diet? Here's how to bake your own
Mauer's gone crackers -- scratch-made, that is. Here's my story.
Over the last two years, following my no-sugars, no wheat-flour path hasn't been easy, especially saying so long to cake, pasta and bread. But the good news is nearly 60 pounds have disappeared, too.
Over time, I've replaced wheat flour-based crackers, like saltines, with commercial almond flour-based crackers. They're all good in their own way, but expensive.
Those supermarket crackers fit the bill because they're wheat-free. But reading the nutritional information on the packages tells another story. Those crackers may be wheat-free, but they're certainly not carbohydrate-free.
Now, I don't expect those crackers to be free of carbohydrates. However, most are not low enough in carbs to easily fit into my current food plan.
Take the From the Ground Up brand Sea Salt Cauliflower Crackers. They're thin and crunchy with a good flavor. One ounce, about 50 crackers, delivers 100 calories. That's the good news. That ounce also delivers 18 carb grams, which is 64% calories from carbs, and there's only a half gram of added sugars. Net carbs: Total carbs (18) minus fiber grams (2) equals 16 net carb grams.
Putting this into perspective: Many Keto/low-carb food plans allow just 15 carb grams per day, leaving very little room for other carbohydrates, like crackers.
Since I'd never made crackers, I decided to try my hand at making wheat-free, low-carb crackers to see if I could do better than commercial brands.
My best take on a decent cracker recipe came from King Arthur Baking (kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/gluten-free-almond-flour-crackers-recipe). It's not the only almond flour, gluten-free cracker recipe out there, but King Arthur Baking is a reliable source for ingredients and recipes, so I went with theirs.
The first good thing: King Arthur's recipe had just four ingredients: almond flour, an egg, salt and pepper. King Arthur also offers other cracker versions of this basic recipe.
Lucky me, I had all those ingredients, plus some sesame seeds, already in my kitchen. The ingredients came together best by using my clean hands to mix the dough and form it into a ball.
The trickiest part is rolling out the dough. Placing the dough between two sheets of parchment paper made it easier because the dough didn't stick to it.
Using a ruler, I cut the rolled-out dough into 1-inch squares as the recipe suggested and only got 60 (the recipe said 120).
After carefully cutting and moving the cracker dough to a jelly roll pan, I baked them for the longer suggested time of 16 minutes. The ones around the edge seemed brown enough, but the rest weren't. Those in the center took four more minutes.
My crackers looked golden brown and, when cooled, were almost crisp. The best news: each cracker delivered just 0.6 carb grams (net 0.2). I can't wait to try different seeds, seasonings and cheese toppings to put my own spin on them.
Today, my column celebrates its 29th anniversary. I've written nearly 1,100 columns during that time. I truly love writing this column and sharing my recipes, and I feel very fortunate that you keep reading it. I'm looking forward to celebrating our 30th year together.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at email@example.com.
Wheat-Free Sesame Seed Almond Flour Crackers
1 large whole egg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1¾ cups finely ground blanched almond flour
Place the oven rack in the center position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium-large bowl, whisk the egg, salt, pepper and sesame seeds together until completely combined. Add the almond flour and, using a rubber spatula, mix together until starting to come together. Using clean hands, mix and press together, until completely combined, into a ball.
Place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper the size of the baking pan. With your hands, pat the dough out into a rough rectangle. Place another piece of the same size parchment paper over the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness.
Discard the top paper. Using a thin, sharp knife or a pizza wheel, cut the dough into roughly 1-inch squares. Transfer the cut crackers to the baking pan.
Bake the crackers for 16 minutes, until the crackers near the pan's edge are a light golden brown. Using a spatula, transfer those crackers to a cooling rack. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 4 more minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden brown.
Transfer those remaining crackers to a cooling rack; cool completely. When cool, transfer to an airtight container.
Makes 60 crackers.
Nutrition values per cracker: 18 calories (69% from fat), 1.4 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 0.6 g carbohydrates (0.1 net carbs), 0.2 g sugars, 0.5 g fiber, 0.9 g protein, 4 mg cholesterol, 21 mg sodium.
Adapted from a King Arthur Baking Company recipe.