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Fennel Crisps

April 15, 2011

Like many food lovers I know, I go through phases with my cooking. 2009 was the year of marmalades and cheese. 2010 was all about bread and chutneys. 2011 is shaping up to be the year of the cracker.

My recent phases, or obsessions as some people, including my devoted husband, describe them, have something significant in common: They were born of my passion for making edibles that most people would otherwise buy.

“Why do you always do things the hard way?” a friend recently asked me. “Are you trying to make the rest of us look bad?”

The answer on both counts is, no, of course not. I sometimes spend hours studying recipes and hours testing and tweaking them (Okay, maybe it is an obsession.), because the rewards are worth the effort. And the learning process is every bit as satisfying as the end result. The engineer in me relishes cracking the code of my muse:

My first marmalade was a tasty but overdone novelty.
A few tweaks.
My second rivaled any I had the pleasure of tasting in the UK.
More tweaks.
The third batch was arguably better than any I could buy anywhere.
Mission accomplished.

The payoff is even sweeter when I discover that my DIY versions are not only delicious, but fast and simple–like crackers. These rustic fennel crisps are the tastiest and easiest crackers I’ve made to date. I can get a batch in the oven in under 15 minutes–faster than I can get to the store and back. They’re also infinitely versatile and can be made to suit anyone’s tastes. Not a fan of fennel? Try adding 2-3 teaspoons of coarse ground black pepper and sprinkle the tops with grated Parmesan. Or add a tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary as the inspiration recipe suggests. I’m making my next batch with toasted sesame seeds.

Fennel Crisps

Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet, July 2008


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon anise seeds*, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Course sea salt (Flaky Maldon salt is my favorite.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. Add water and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  4. Divide dough in half. On a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat, roll half the dough out into a 10×14 rectangle. Place the parchment on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Drizzle the top of each with olive oil and evenly distribute it with a brush or your hands. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. To ensure even baking, switch the tray positions after ten minutes.
  7. Carefully slide the cracker sheets onto a wire rack. Don’t fret if they are slightly soft when you remove them from the oven; they will crisp as they cool.
  8. When completely cool, break into assorted shapes. Eat immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

note*: The combination of anise and fennel seeds deepens the flavor. Anise seeds have a strong bite that quickly fades, while fennel seeds are often milder with a longer finish. You can substitute an additional teaspoon of fennel seeds for the anise seeds.

Are you cuckoo for crackers like me? Consider making your own whole wheat crackers. They’re a bit fussier than the rustic crisps above but equally delicious and satisfying.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2011 12:16 pm

    I love fennel and anise…I bet these are great!

  2. March 22, 2013 3:43 pm

    Just pulled a batch of these out of the oven. Yum!


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