These gorgeous, delicate cumin crackers (or sticks, which is what I usually call them) solve a big problem.
Which one, you might ask?
Well, the one that has you scratching your head when you see the pastry scraps on the counter after you’ve lined your tart tin.
You notice that there isn’t quite enough pastry left to line two tart tins. There isn’t much at all, but you can’t make yourself throw it away.
You don’t have to, for in those scraps lays an entire new universe, the one of the easy and surprising appetizer.
The next time you’ve got pastry scraps, make these and serve them as your appetizer. Your guests will be agog at how delicious they are, and how clever you are to have made them without effort.
The pastry recipe below makes enough for one 10-1/2 inch tart, with scraps. (Hint: sometimes I make the pastry just to make the cumin sticks!)
Tips for pastry scraps:
Do not bunch them into a ball and re-roll them. They’ll be tough. You can roll out the scraps slightly thinner, if necessary. Either way, paint them with the milk – don’t drown them – then sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice. If you’re making savory sticks, you’ll want to add salt. Amounts are variable – you’ll want to season them liberally with the spice, and less liberally with the salt.
Seasoning options for these lovely sticks:
Fennel seed, crushed
Paprika, hot or sweet
Pepper, black or white, ground
Cinnamon, with or without sugar
Lemon zest and sugar
Nothing is better than these easy cumin sticks right out of the oven.
For the pastry:
1 ½ cups (205 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
12 Tablespoons (180 g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons milk
For the Cumin:
1 to 2 teaspoons cumin, crushed or ground
Fleur de sel or fine sea salt
1. Place the flour and the salt in a food processor and process once to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 5 tablespoons ice water and pulse just until the pastry begins to hold together. If the pastry seem dry and dusty, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water.
2.Transfer the pastry from the food processor to your work surface and form it into a flat round. Let it rest on a work surface, covered with a bowl, for at least 30 minutes. The pastry can sit several hours at room temperature, as long as the room isn’t warmer than 68 degrees. The pastry is ready to use as desired.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220C).
4. Roll out the pastry until it is quite thin (about 1/8th inch).
5. Paint the pastry with the milk (don’t drown it), then sprinkle with the cumin salt (or seasoning of your choice).
6. Cut the pastry into strips that measure about 1/4 x 4 – inches (.75 x 10 cm).
7. Transfer the strips to a baking sheet, and bake in the center of the oven until they are crisp and golden, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the crackers to a cooling rack, then serve. These are best the day they are made, though they’ll keep for 24 hours in an airtight container.
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