Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 25, 2010

Amaze your friends, confound your enemies!

Make your own crackers. They store well. They look interesting. They taste great. And they really will amaze people. Plus crackers are just not that difficult to do.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that crackers are one of the easiest baked goods to produce. They don’t burn as readily as cookies. They have less fat in them than scones or muffins. They can be produced in a wide range of flavors using all kinds of grain flours–and with a minimum of fuss.

Possibly the most demand they can make on your kitchen skills is rolling them out. No rolling pin? No problem! I soak the label off a large wine bottle and wash it well. Hey, presto! Instant rolling pin with a good surface and reasonable working weight and stability. Give it a try, don’t be shy. Anyone can enjoy homemade crackers (and they make great gifts too).

Crackers— I usually double this, since it’s no real trouble and they store so well

2 cups all purpose flour, substitute up to 3/4 cup of something else (semolina, corn meal, rye flour &tc)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus a large crystal salt for the tops (Kosher, Bali, Maldon, Fleur de Sel &tc)

1 tsp. ground black pepper, or cayenne, or dill, or herbs de provence, or grains of paradise, or italian blend, or poultry seasoning, or Old Bay–or whatever you like, fits the menu and goes with what else you’re serving

1 egg (or 3 TBSP water blended with 1 TBSP ground flax meal)

1/3 cup oil, neutral like canola or flavorful like walnut or unrefined sesame or olive

1/4 to 1/2 cup water (smaller amount if it’s humid, more if you keep the flour in the freezer or have the HVAC running all the time)

In a large bowl or food processor, mix the first five ingredients. Beat the egg, or egg substitute, with the oil. Drizzle this into the dry ingredients, stirring the while–or with the motor running. It will look like coarse meal when you’re done. Now add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough will hold together when you squeeze it lightly and form a nice ball. Divide the dough into two disks. Wrap well and allow to chill and relax the gluten for thirty minutes or more.

Roll out a disk on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle any toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried herbs, spices &tc) across the rolled out dough and press them in lightly with another pass or two of the rolling pin. Using a pizza wheel, pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into strips or trapezoids (or get out your cookie cutters and be all fancy with your finished product). The thinner you roll them, the crisper they’ll be. The thicker they are, the heartier a side dish they make.

Bake in an oven preheated to 375­° on baking sheets for 8-20 minutes, depending on thickness. They’re done when they begin to brown around the edges. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight environment for a week–or in the freezer for a couple of months (they defrost in an hour or two at room temp). Yum!

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