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Homemade Crackers

July 14, 2011

Of all the foods people typically buy pre-made, crackers must be the absolute easiest to make at home. A single batch of crackers takes about 10 minutes, and the only “must have” ingredients are flour, oil or butter, and water. The resulting cracker is a bit of a blank canvas; I outline below four ways you can approach filling it in with flavor.

This simple base is adapted from recipes by Mark Bittman (in the NYT and in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) and Heidi Swanson (on 101cooking.com). You’ll need:

  • 1 cup semolina flour (you can substitute white flour)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can substitute white flour)
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp olive oil (you can substitute butter)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Seasonings (see below)

You’ll notice that nowhere on this list do any undesirable ingredients appear – nothing artificial, nothing unethical. I didn’t realize this was much of an issue until I realized that my normal crackers use palm oil; click here for more on why that’s a big deal.

In any case, these ingredients are a snap to pull together.

Here’s how to make the base:

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients either in a bowl or in a food processor
  • Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5 minutes
  • Divide the dough into 4 pieces, roll each into a ball, cover and let rest for 30 minutes

And now, for the seasonings. You can of course season these crackers however you like. For me, there are three ways to approach this:

  1. The neutral cracker. Some folks prefer their crackers to stay quiet and let whatever it is they’re eating it with do all the talking. This makes a lot of sense if you don’t know in advance how you’ll be serving your crackers. For a neutral cracker, either skip seasonings altogether or stick to a dusting of fresh grated Parmesan with a bit of salt and pepper.
  2. The sweet cracker. If you want your crackers to be snacks in and of their own right, try making them sweet. Cinnamon and sugar is an obvious choice, but I like ground ginger and sugar. Alternately, try anise extract in the dough with anise seeds sprinkled on top.
  3. The herbed cracker. This type of cracker pairs well with cheeses. Just grab a mix of fresh or dried herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, and chives and then incorporate them into your dough.
  4. The seeded cracker. Seeded crackers are also great with cheese. I’ve had success using a blend of 50% white and black sesame seed and 50% an equal mixture of fennel, dill, cumin, and caraway. Seeds should go in your dough and on top. It’s hard to keep the seeds on top from falling off, but if you have the in your dough as well you’re assured some seed flavor.

Here’s how to incorporate the seasonings and finish these crackers off:

  • If incorporating seasonings into one of the balls of dough, do so by rolling it out a bit, sprinkling the seasoning evenly across it, folding it up a few times, and rolling it out again, repeating as necessary.
  • Roll the ball out to about 1/4 inch. And no, you don’t need a pasta maker to do this; a rolling pin works just fine.
  • If adding seasonings on top, lightly spray the rolled out dough with water. Sprinkle the seasonings as evenly as possible, being careful not to neglect the edges, and then rub them in with your hands.
  • Continue to roll the dough out until it is as thin as you can get it while still being able to pick it up.
  • Transfer the dough to a pizza stone (strongly preferred) or floured backing sheet.
  • Use a large knife to score dough where you want to break it into pieces. You’ll need to score so deeply that you nearly cut all the way through.
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch while baking, as the crackers can go from done to overdone in about 30 seconds.
  • Remove from baking surface and let cool before breaking.
  • Repeat with the remaining 3 balls of dough, potentially changing the topping you use for each.

The dough refrigerates and freezes extremely well, so feel free to set some of the dough aside for later.You can also easily halve or double the recipe.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rural Housewife permalink
    March 25, 2012 3:13 am

    Great recipe! Thanks! I made these this morning, doubled the recipe and ended up making 5 different flavors. I also used brown rice flour instead of the semolina flour. Thanks again for the recipe. I shared it with my fans on Facebook.com/ruralhousewife.

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