Cheese and crackers are arguably one of the best snacks or appetizers. With so many varieties of cheese, it never gets boring. However, when it comes to finding crackers in the store, the only “clean” brand I’ve found is Triscuit. They only have three ingredients and use whole wheat. As much as I like them, sometimes I just want something different, but all the other crackers are full of artificial ingredients, extra oil, and sugar. This is precisely why I took on the task of making these homemade sourdough Herb & Olive Oil Crackers, adapted from Homestead and Chill. They’re super easy and way better than anything out of a box!
How do I make sourdough starter?
Sourdough starter is one of the key ingredients to this recipe. It might sound intimidating at first, but it’s actually very simple to make. In a medium sized bowl, mix 50g of all purpose flour and 50g of water. Cover with a dish towel and set aside for 24 hours.
The next day, add another 50g each of flour and water. Again, cover with a dish towel and set aside.
On day three, add 100g of flour and 100g of water. Stir to combine and cover with a dish towel.
On day four, remove 80g of the mixture, cover, and set aside for 24 hours. Nothing gets added this time.
On the fifth day, the starter should be ready to use. It will be puffy and bubbly, and smell like yeasty bread dough. If it isn’t ready yet, feed it again as before with 50g of flour and water. Recheck the next day.
Notes on Sourdough Starter
During the first few days, the starter might smell a little off. Just give it a few days to mature and it will eventually smell like bread dough. This is because the flour and water mixture pulls in wild yeasts in the air which feed on the starter. (I know, it sounds crazy, right?!) This is why you don’t have to add conventional yeast to sourdough bread.
There is also lactic acid bacteria in the starter which prevent any pathogenic bacteria from colonizing. As long as you keep the starter fed with equal amounts of water and flour each day, there shouldn’t be any problems. Missing one feed isn’t a big deal, but if it goes too long without food, that’s when bad stuff starts to grow. If you notice any funky colors or odors, be sure to dispose of the starter and try again.
If you don’t use the starter very often, it can be stored in the refrigerator and fed on a weekly basis. You will need to keep it at room temperature for a few days before baking with it though. Personally, I like to keep mine at room temperature and feed it daily because it’s easier to remember and I use it often.
Every few feeds, the bowl will start to get full. Simply toss out some of the starter and before the next feeding. Now that my starter is mature, sometimes I will do smaller feeds of 25g of water and flour in order to reduce waste if I’m not using it for a while. Now that it’s winter time, I’ve also noticed my starter drying out more between feeds. This is nothing to worry about. Just scrape off the dry part and feed as usual. I find that mine does not get as dry when I store it in the pantry versus on the counter.
What’s the difference between sourdough starter and levain?
This is a super common question and is part of the reason why sourdough recipes can be so confusing. Levain is simply the portion of starter that you remove from the bulk bowl to use in the recipe. It is usually removed about 12 hours after the last feed. When you have a bowl of yeasty flour and water on the countertop, that’s sourdough starter. When you remove a half cut to put in an cracker recipe, that is levain.
How to Make Herb & Olive Oil Crackers
Now that we’ve covered all the details of making sourdough, let’s talk about making the actual Herb & Olive Oil Crackers! Start by mixing the levain, flour, olive oil, herbs, garlic powder, and sea salt in a large bowl. Knead the dough together with your hands or with the dough hook on a stand mixer. Once it comes together, form the the dough into a ball and press it into a patty (about a half inch thick). Place the dough in the refrigerator and let chill for at least a half hour.
When the dough is chilled and you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it flat until it is about a quarter inch thick.
Use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to cut the dough into rectangles. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Then, take any scraps from the edges, roll them back out, and cut out more crackers. Repeat this process until all the dough is used up.
Use a silicone brush to brush olive oil over each of the crackers. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 20-25 minutes. They should be slightly golden brown on the edges when they are ready. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
What should I pair with Herb & Olive Oil Crackers?
These crackers pair best with a hard, sharp cheese. I chose to use Parmesan, but Romano, Asiago, or a sharp white cheddar would also work well. I then drizzled a bit of raw, local honey on top which was the perfect compliment to the nutty cheese. If you prefer to serve with these crackers with a dip, try my Homemade Boursin Cheese or Egg-Free Spinach Artichoke Dip. If you’re using Herb & Olive Oil Crackers as a appetizer for a gathering, consider adding some Kalamata olives and serving with a glass of champagne. Enjoy!
Herb & Olive Oil Crackers
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup levain*
- 2 Tbsp blend of fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, and scallion tops
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
- ¼ tsp Celtic sea salt (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, levain, herbs, garlic powder, olive oil, and sea salt.
- Mix the ingredients until a sticky dough forms.
- Form the dough into a ball and press it into a patty, about ½ inch thick. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- When the dough is chilled, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out until it is no thicker than ¼ inch.
- Use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to cut the crackers into rectangles. Take any scraps from the edges and roll them out again to cut more crackers. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
- Transfer the crackers to the prepared baking sheets.
- Brush the crackers with olive oil and sprinkle Celtic sea salt on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they become golden brown on the edges.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of honey.