Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crackers




Crackers tend to be a pantry and party staple. Most people keep a box of them somewhere in the cupboard. And nearly every event I have ever been to or worked as a caterer with a cheese plate also has an assortment of mediocre crackers. Have you ever really had a good one? One that doesn't list 23 unpronounceable ingredients along the side of the box? Those ones are hard to find, but easy to make. 

Making crackers is the sort of thing were people look at me like, "you made these?" like I have done something really extraordinary or difficult. Making your own crackers is neither, but it is decidedly more delicious than the packaged variety. I love homemade crackers and they are a snap to make and really easy to customize to they variety that you like best. And you could use fancier equipment, but all you really need is a bowl to stir them in and something round to roll them out with (a bottle turned on its side is perfect for those without rolling pins). It is faster than any other kind of bread and a nice change of pace to serve instead of bread or a better choice than chips. 

Crackers are also a perfect recipe to make with kids. People typically think of cookies since kids can cut them out and decorate them. Guess what, you can do that with crackers and get kids helping with something that is not a total treat. Hooray.

My kids lightly pressed heart shaped cookie cutters onto these crackers
before they baked to make the lovely shapes you see here.

Crackers are endlessly adaptable and changeable; chances are you can figure out your favorites quite easily. I love to add and swap different flours, herbs, spices and cheese. You can even change the water out for another liquid. Milk (alternative milks also work nicely) or cream make a lovely and richer cracker. We love a good oat cracker sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Don't try to hard here, it doesn't matter if you cut all your crackers out to look just so. I like the fact that they look rustic and don't mind a few craggy edges. If you really like it to look homemade bake the whole cracker as one piece and break it up when it is out of the oven. Here are two fantastic: one basic and one more specific cracker recipes:

Basic Crackers

1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
About 1/4 cup water, plus more as need

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the flour, salt, and butter together in a large bowl or in the container of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend with a fork or pulse, until the flour and butter are combined. Add about 1/4 cup of water and blend, then continue to add water until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.

 Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick, or even less (I roll out directly onto a baking stone or parchment or silicone baking mat that I will be baking on- so much easier). Don't worry about overhandling-add flour as needed, and keep rolling. Score lightly with a sharp knife or razor if you want to break these into nice squares or rectangles later on. Bake on a lightly floured baking sheet, or directly on baking stones, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature , or store in a tin.

Sesame Thins

1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted (2 1/2 oz.)
1 cup pastry flour (5 oz.)
1 cup whole wheat flour (5 1/4 oz.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2-3/4 cup water

Toast the sesame seeds in a 350F oven for 10 to 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until golden brown or whichever way you prefer. In a large bowl, combine seeds, flours and salt. Add oil, stir until the mixture comes together. Add just enough water (a tablespoon at a time) to form a workable dough. Divide dough into three equal portions. Roll one portion, until it's very thin (about 1/16 inch thick). Cut dough into desired shape (s)- use a wine glass/cookie cutter or a pizza wheel. Transfer them to parchment-lined cookie sheets (Or just roll and cut on the parchment like I do). Bake the crackers for 25-30 mins, until they're beginning to brown around the edges. Remove them from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Need something to dip into?


2 comments:

  1. You didn't answer my question about the chickens.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kelly- you know it is for eggs.

    ReplyDelete

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