Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.
I was really excited when this challenge was announced. I love making crackers at home. They make a wonderful snack, the perfect companion for dips, you can play around with flavors by adding seeds, herbs, spices, nuts or different cheeses and the best part they are free of additives and preservatives and artifical flavors.
Dana challenged us to make crackers using two techniques: rolled by hand or a pasta machine crackers and the slice and bake or freezer crackers.
I made 3 crackers, the first was Alton Brown’s seedy crackers. I added flax seeds to the mix to increase the nutritional value. The second was a slice and bake herb, tomato and cheese cracker . The last was a sweet cracker that I will be sharing with you soon
Slightly modified from Alton Brown’s recipe. These crackers were super crunchy. I loved them topped with a little labneh, mint and served along side some grapes! Mmmmm
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) whole wheat four
1 cup (240 ml) 140 gm/5 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm) table salt
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (8 gm) baking powder
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (195 ml) (6½ fl oz) water
Mix the whole wheat flour,all purpose flour, seeds, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add the oil and stir until combined.
Add the water until the dough comes together.
Kneed the dough 5 or 6 times (you do not want to over work the dough) and allow to rest, covered, on the counter for 15 minutes.(this ensures that all the flour is hydrated)
You can also chill the dough at this point and continue working with it at a later time
Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.
Divide the dough into three parts keeping two covered
Working with one part of the dough at a time, roll out the dough. You can either use a rolling pin or pasta rollers (if you have them).
Once the dough is rolled to the desired thickness place the rolled sheets of dough of a tray lined with parchment paper.
You can cut the crackers into squares or rectangles using a pizza cutter or you can bake them as one sheet and break them into pieces after baking
Bake the crackers until the edges are golden brown (this will take 7-10 mintes depending on their thickness)then place them under the broiler till the top is golden brown (2-3 minutes)
If the crackers are not crispy enough after cooling, turn on the oven at 200 C for 10 minutes, place the crackers on a tray in the oven and turn it off and leave them in the oven until it cools down
Herb tomato and cheese crackers
No cracker challenge would be complete without a cheese cracker. I decided to use Monterey Jack cheese and thought of flavors that would compliment it well. I decided to use sundried tomatoes and basil and they were amazing. The smell of them baking in the oven was irresistable and the kids could hardly wait for them to cool down. I served these with a dip (recipe follows) and most of them were gone in the same day!
170 gm monterey Jack cheese grated
55 gm (1/2 stick) (4 tablespoons) butter softened
100 gm (3/4 cup) flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes chopped (drained from oil if they are packed in oil or soaked with water if they are the dry type)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon herbs de provance
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine butter, herbs, tomato and cheese
Add the flour, salt and paprika and stir to combine (the mix will look slightly crumbly)
Form the dough into a logs and wrap with cling film
Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
Heat the oven to moderate 180 C.
Slice a log into thin or thick slices depending on how crisp you would like them to be and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown
Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
Sundried tomatoes and herbs dip
1 cup labneh, sour cream or cream cheese
3 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (drained from oil if they are packed in oil or soaked with water if they are the dry type)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provance
2 tablespoons sliced pitted olives
Mix all the dip ingredients until well combined
It is better to make this ahead of time, this allows the flavors to come together and develop better
Sweet sesame crackers
These were an attempt to recreate the sweet sesame crackers used to make for us when we were kids. They were crunchy, with hints of anaise and fennel and loads of sesame seeds, slightly sweet and perfect with a cup of tea.This recipe I tried was close but not the same.A very good cracker in its own right but not exactly the one I was looking for. This one is a yeasted cracker and it was softer, more chewy while the crackers I remember were crunchy and crisp. I will try to experiment with a few other recipes and keep you posted
If the crackers are not crispy enough after cooling, turn on the oven at 200 C for 10 minutes, place the crackers on a tray in the oven and turn it off and leave them in the oven until it cools down. (This works for cookies and granola too)
Omit the tomatoes and herbs and you have a basic cheese cracker recipe you can play around with, add different nuts and / or herbs..get creative.
If you are looking for some dip ideas to try with your crackers how about trying some of these?
Storage and freezing
Generally, crackers with less fat and cheese last for weeks in an airtight container and richer crackers only a few days. The rolling craker dough can be made days ahead, stored in the fridge and baked when needed. The icebox cracker dough can be frozen for several months before thawed, sliced and baked.This way you can enjoy your homemade crackers anytime you want.