Here’s the thing about za’atar crackers: they are in essence a shortcut to the most traditional way to eat za’atar, which is man’oushe flatbread. There is no yeast involved, which means no waiting, no finesse in handling dough. I personally consider both of those things a bonus (yeast, handling dough) because I love baking bread.
BUT, even for a bread baker, there is a time and place for easy. And always a time and place for delicious. Za’atar crackers have been on my mind for years. A quick and easy cracker that is fun to make (you still need a rolling pin for this), with all of the za’atar flavor we love. Dan has gone kooky for these crackers. He’s even suggested I make and sell them. Which is something for a guy who responds, every time, to questions about me opening a restaurant with this: “The name of the place is ‘Hell No.’ ”
Za’atar Cracker Ingredients
Very few. Flour, tiny sugar, olive oil, water, salt. And Za’atar. You can experiment with other spices with no changes to recipe amounts. So if you aren’t a za’atar person (what?!), try sesame seeds, dried mint, poppy seeds, fennel, you get the idea.
Because there is no yeast involved, the method could not be easier. Combine all of the ingredients and stir well. I take that back, actually–I only can stir for so long here, as the dough forms and there is residual flour around the base of the bowl. Hands in, habibi! Knead, get it all together. Then the joy: no waiting!
The dough is halved and rolled thin thin, 1/8-inch. Go as thin as possible. But I will say my thicker versions (1/4-inch) also taste great; they just need to bake a little longer.
The trickiest part of the process, and tricky is an overstatement, is transferring the cut pieces from countertop to lined sheet pan. A spatula pushes the dough, affecting the shape of the cracker. I get under one side with the spatula and lift, lift, lift in short little spurts, using my other hand to help. One the sheet pan, I do a little reshaping if needed.
Beautiful thing, the za’tar crackers are not super delicate. I stack them in tupperware or a ziplock bag where they’re decent for two weeks. They’ll freeze fine in a freezer bag or container for three good months or more. Make ahead joy!
Crisp crackers that could not be simpler! Cut the crackers in any shape or size you like. If rolled thicker than 1/8-inch, bake longer, until golden. Serve these crackers with hummus, labneh, or any favorite dip.
- 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons za'atar, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup water, luke warm
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the dough
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour. Stir in the salt and 1 tablespoon of the za'atar.
In a large measuring cup, stir the water, honey, and olive oil a few times (these ingredients won't combine per se, we just want to add them together).
Slowly stir the liquids into the flour-salt mixture, stirring with a wooden or other sturdy spoon. Once the dough comes together, use your hands to mop up any excess flour in the bowl. Knead the dough until combined, about a minute. The dough will be sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half to 1/8-inch thickness. This is pretty thin! Keep working the dough as you roll to a square or rectangle shape.
Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the za'atar--do this from way high over the dough for evenness.
Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 3"x1" rectangles, or any shape and size you like.
Transfer the cut dough to one of the sheet pans, about an inch apart. Use a spatula to transfer, with very short lifting motions from the long side of the dough rectangle, to help hold the shape of the cracker.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown in spots on the bottom of the crackers. Cool completely; the crackers will crisp as they cool.
Repeat with the remaining dough.