Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Chefs rally for Sustainable Food Center's Farm to Plate fundraiser, now in its 12th year

Addie Broyles
Barr Mansion, the country's first certified organic event venue, has been the host of the Sustainable Food Center's Farm to Plate fundraiser since its inception. [Contributed]

It's the 12th year for Farm to Plate, the Sustainable Food Center's biggest fundraiser of the year.

On May 9, more than 30 chefs will gather at the Barr Mansion, the fundraiser's longtime home, to serve small bites to a crowd of local food supporters who have donated more than $1 million to the organization through the event since its inception.

The event, which includes live music and a silent auction, starts at 6 p.m. with passed appetizers and drinks, and if you have VIP tickets, you'll have access to small plates from local chefs from 6 to 7 p.m.

Each year, SFC gives a Food Changemaker award to a notable person or organization in the local food community. Previous recipients have included Lorena Sanchez Cruz of SFC’s Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre, as well as AISD Nutrition and Food Services Director Anneliese Tanner.

This year's participating chefs include Jennifer Costello and Chris Hurley of The Bonneville, Zach Hunter of The Brewer's Table, Thomas Calhoun of Lenoir, Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo, Sonya Cote of Eden East and Hillside Farmacy, Rick Lopez of La Condesa, Sway's Stacey Jones, Jam Sanitchat of Thai Fresh and Ed Sura of Uchiko. Drinks will be provided by local beverage makers including Hops & Grain Brewing, Hye Meadow Winery, Lewis Wines, Wedding Oak Winery and Lost Pines Yaupon Tea. You can find the full list of chefs and beverage providers online.

Tickets and VIP tables are now on sale, and you can find them at

At last year's event, I tried lots of delicious dishes, but I recall that the homemade crackers from Barr Mansion chef Sarah Sparks were particularly good. I asked her for the recipe but hadn't had a chance to run it.

Seedy Baguette Crackers

These seedy baguette crackers from Barr Mansion baker Sarah Sparks were a hit at last year's Farm to Plate fundraiser.  

312 grams room temperature water

13 grams instant yeast

500 grams bread flour

11 grams salt

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons flax seeds

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 egg, for egg wash

Stir together room temperature water and instant yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add flour and mix on low speed using the dough hook attachment until a shaggy dough forms. Stop mixer and let rest 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes of resting, sprinkle salt on top of the dough and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. Add a little flour if the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl by this point.

Ten minutes into the mixing process, sprinkle in seed mix gradually in 3 additions, allowing seeds to incorporate before adding the next addition. The total mixing time should be 15 minutes. The finished dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but still stick to your finger when touched. Form dough into a smooth ball and let rest, covered, in a lightly greased bowl for about 20 minutes.

Fold the dough by pulling the edges into the center of the dough ball. This will gently deflate the dough and create a more complex gluten network. Repeat this process 2 more times, resting about 20 to 30 minutes between each fold for a total of 3 folds. At this point you can store your dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to allow more flavor development or you can continue the process for same day results.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and form each piece into a smooth ball by rolling the dough under your palm in a circular motion on your countertop. Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and let rest about 1 hour at room temperature.

After 1 hour the dough should be slightly risen, and the gluten should be relaxed. Flatten each dough ball and shape by pressing into a rectangle. Fold the wider top edge down into the center of the rectangle, repeat with the lower edge. Then fold the entire rectangle in half, sealing the edges with the heel of your hand.

With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 16-inch log. (Your goal is a 15-inch baguette, so 16 inches allows for the slight shrinkage you'll see once you're done rolling.) Taper each end of the log slightly to create the baguette's typical "pointy" end.

Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans; or into the folds of a heavily floured cotton dish towel (or baker's couche). Cover them with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise until they're slightly risen. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature (about 68 degrees).

Heat oven to 425 degrees if using a convection oven or 450 degrees if using a conventional oven, and place a cast iron or other metal pan on the floor of the oven, or on the lowest rack. If you're using a baking stone, place it on a middle rack. Boil 2 cups of water.

If your baguettes have risen in a dish towel or couche, gently roll them (seam side down) onto a lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. If you plan on baking them on a baking stone, roll them onto a piece of parchment, and lift the parchment onto a baker's peel. Lightly brush each baguette with an egg wash made with one egg and 3 tablespoons water beaten together.

Using a baker's lame (a special curved blade) or a very sharp knife held at about a 45-degree angle, make three to five long lengthwise slashes in each baguette.

Load the baguettes into the oven. If you’re baking on a stone, use a baker’s peel to transfer the baguettes along with their parchment liner, onto the stone. Carefully pour the boiling water into the cast iron pan, and quickly shut the oven door. The steam created by the boiling water will help the baguettes rise, and give them a shiny crust.

Bake the baguettes — on the pan, or on a stone — for 24 to 28 minutes, or until they're a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool them on a rack. Let the baguettes cool completely before thinly slicing. Place on the tray and bake again for 8 to 10 minutes to crisp up the crackers.

— Sarah Sparks