When I worked near the Crudessence on rue Rachel in Montreal I’d go there for a restorative smoothie for lunch when I really felt like splurging. $10 for a smoothie meal is a good deal when it really is a meal, is 100% organic, is made in front of you, and gives you a welcome respite and a moment of peace away from the office. I don’t know too many others who’d say the relatively expensive raw vegan restaurant is a steal when you have Romados cheap Portuguese chicken, artery-clogging Venezuelan pupusas, Middle Eastern wraps and Indian poutine all in close proximity.
But when you make your own almond milk you appreciate the cost and the labour. Especially if you keep it truly raw. I bought skin-on natural, unsalted, unroasted organic almonds. Then I soaked them for 8 hours to release the enzyme inhibitors. then I blended them with fresh water. Then I strained them through a nylon (or was it coconut fibre?) nutmilk bag (a cheesecloth works too, but the handy bag that raps around a container is almost mess-free, whereas cheesecloth and I don’t always get along). Yes, you can make as many nutmilk bag jokes here as you’d like, but they’re the best for making nutmilk…
Then I sweetened the milk with a couple dates (blend them with the almonds and then sieve through the nutmilk bag too) ad the tiniest pinch of salt to bring out the flavour. Voilà. Almond milk.
And it was beautiful. But boy was it a ton of work. Sure, Crudessence makes all their nut milks in big batches, which saves on labour, but still…wow.
And then the real problem is you have all this fibre left over! What are you going to do with 4 cups of organic almond pulp? Why, make crackers, of course! Right away? Heavens, no! Freeze it and give yourself a break for a month until you have the emotional strength to make more organic, raw goods. Much better.
And that’s where I stood one Thursday afternoon, with a defrosting container of almond pulp and a drive to make crackers.
But the problem is I don’t have a dehydrator. In a dehydrator crackers are easy. In the oven, they’re tough. They don’t dry evenly because they’re not elevated, they stick to the pan unless you add a ton of oil (and even then…), and you have to roll them out so thinly without them falling apart. There’s no gluten involved, so they’re probably not going to be as sticky.
Yet gluten-free bakers have got this figured out. And after some research online, a lot of nose-snubbing at recipes involving nutritional yeast (I don’t think it’s a good ingredient if it makes me stomach revolt. At least it’s not a good ingredient for me), and some deep breaths for determination, I got to it. You, dear readers, can skip all that and do as follows:
Raw & Gluten-Free Almond Thyme Crackers
1 1/2 cups almond pulp (or almond meal or almond flour purchased at the grocery store, but it probably won’t be raw)
1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried or fresh thyme
1/2 tsp baking soda (I think baking soda is raw. Confirmation?)
2 tbsp sesame seeds (or more chia seeds if you don’t want sesame in there)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil or sesame oil, divided
Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, reserving 1/2 tsp oil in a small bowl or cup. Stir to combine. If it’s too dry to come together, add more water a tbsp at a time. Divide in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with 1/2 tsp of the reserved oil. Place one half of the batter on the parchment paper. Place a second sheet of parchment paper (the same size as the bottom one) on top and use a rolling pin, wine bottle, or long glass (if your baking sheet has a raised rim) to roll the dough out to about 1/8″ thick (if some sections are thicker than others they’ll take longer to bake/dehydrate). The thinner the better, but the easier to burn, and the tougher to remove from the pan.
Remove top layer of parchment paper and place pan in oven at the lowest possible heat with the door slightly ajar (or bake at 350°F for 18 minutes if you don’t care about staying raw) for an hour (don’t pre-slice them into crackers. The batter will fall apart a little, as it did on my first try):
Check crackers, and rotate pan and return to oven if not slightly browned and crispy. Mine crisped around the edges first, so I cut off pieces with a knife as they browned.
When all the pieces are done (it could be up to another hour, depending on the thickness of the crackers), remove from oven, slide parchment paper from the baking sheet to cool, and leave for at least 5 minutes. Remove bottom layer of parchment paper and use scissors to slice into small crackers. Scissors were so much easier than using a knife!
Repeat with second ball of batter on a new, greased piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, all topped with an ungreased piece of parchment. Roll-out, dehydrate, remove from oven, cool, remove parchment paper, slice.
Let cool completely before storing in an air-tight container or they’ll go soft. I served these with a homemade basil pesto as the appetizer for a little dinner party (below). Then later with homemade sunflower butter (much easier than nutmilks!), and then with just about everything I ate for a week…