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Crazy for Crackers

Daring Bakers
July 2012

Hello everyone! My name is Dana McFarlane and I am thrilled to be your host for the month of July! I have not joined the world of blogging yet with the excuse that I am working on a cookbook to unveil my culinary interests all at once. It’s a slow going task but being part of the DB challenges for almost two years now has got me in the habit of documenting my dishes!

July’s challenge is all about crackers! Crackers are something I particularly like making because I find it an uncommon practice these days. Most people think I am crackers for going to the trouble but delight when given the opportunity to taste them. Making crackers also allows you to avoid the additives that make store bought crackers last for years and they make wonderful hostess and parting gifts.

Download printable file HERE

You can make crackers a variety of different ways, which is what I would like to focus on this month. It can be as simple as combining ingredients in a bowl, shaping into a log and slicing like icebox cookies, or mixing a dough in the stand-up mixer, passing through your pasta rollers and cutting pretty shapes with cookie cutters. I will challenge you to try some different methods and present some suggested recipes down below. Cheeses can be swapped, flours altered and spices changed; I encourage creativity! As long as you a making small crispy platforms on which to add a myriad of toppings, you are on the right track!!

Recipe Source: A few recipes from the pile of books I own:

• Brown, Alton (2011). Good Eats 3:The Early Years, “Seedy Crisps”. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, NY.
• The American Culinary Institute. (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (3rd ed.) “Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers”. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
• The American Culinary Institute. (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (3rd ed.). “Cheddar and Walnut Icebox Crackers”. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
• Smith, Sandy (2000). Kootenay Country Kitchens Cookbook: A Collection of Kootenay Favourites. “Health Crackers” Kootenay Kitchens Publishing, Nakusp, BC.

Blog-checking lines: 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.

Posting Date: July 27, 2012

Note: The end product is something that should be crispy so, if after your crackers have cooled they remain a little soft, simply pop them back in the oven until crispy. The leaner the dough (less fat and cheese) I find are the most successful baked twice. More rich doughs tend to be perfect when browned and less likely to need additional baking. You really are just drying out the dough rather than cooking the ingredients so keep any eye on them and adjust cooking times to suit your oven.

Mandatory Items: Two different crackers recipes must be prepared using two different methods of forming. Hand rolling and pasta rollers, pasta rollers and icebox or pasta rollers and icebox etc.

Variations allowed: The recipes listed here are a suggestion. You may substitute for any you choose so long as they are formed in two different ways.

Preparation time:

• Preparing the dough: 20 minutes
• Chilling (as applicable): 1 hour to overnight
• Rolling and forming: approximately 30 minutes
• Baking: 10 to 30 minutes depending on recipe

Equipment required:

• Mixing bowls
• Measuring spoons
• Measuring cups
• Rolling pin
• Cookie sheets
• Parchment paper
• Spatula
• Lifter
• Knife or pizza wheel
• Food processor (optional)
• Stand mixer (optional)
• Pasta rollers (optional)

Health Crackers (Roll these by hand):

Servings: Approximately 80 crackers

Ingredients

3 cups (720 ml) (240 gm)(8½ oz) rolled oats
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (80 gm) (2¾ oz) wheat germ
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (40 gm)(1½ oz) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
¾ cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 large egg white
Cracker topping:
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nigella (onion) seeds, salt
Salt sprinkling

Directions:

1. Mix the oats, flour, wheat germ sugar and salt together in a large bowl or bowl for the standup mixer.
2. Combine the water and oil and stir into the oat mixture until it comes together and a dough forms.

3. Form dough into a disk and allow to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes but up to a day if you are making the ahead.
4. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
5. Divide the dough into quarters and work with one piece at a time, allowing the remaining pieces to stay in the fridge as you proceed with rolling out the crackers.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/16 inch (1½ mm) thick and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet by carefully wrapping the dough around the rolling pin.

7. Brush the dough with the egg white mixed briefly with a tablespoon of water and sprinkle with seeds and salt of your choice.
8. Cut the dough with a pizza wheel and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned. Crackers that are not crispy once cooled may be returned to the oven.
9. Store in an airtight container and eat within two weeks

Seedy Crisps (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):

Servings: Varies depending on thickness; approximately 50 crackers

Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) whole wheat four
1 cup (240 ml) 140 gm/5 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz)poppy seeds
1/3 cup (80 ml) (40 gm) (1¼ oz) 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

Directions

1. Mix the flours, seeds, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
2. Add the oil and stir until combined.
3. Add the water until the dough comes together.
4. Kneed the dough 5 or 6 times and allow to rest, covered, on the counter for 15 minutes. You can also chill the dough at this point and come back later.

5. Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.
6. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin to reach a desired thickness (thick or thin) or roll out in your pasta rollers. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well-floured so as not to stick.

7. Place strips of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

8. If the crackers are thick, bake for 7minutes, flip them over and bake for 7 minutes more. Then cut or break into crackers shapes while still warm. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until crispy.
9. If not crispy enough when cooled, crackers can be returned to the oven.
10. Store in an airtight container and eat within 2 weeks

Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):

Servings: Approximately 80 crackers

Ingredients

1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated pepper jack cheese, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 gm) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (½ gm) black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) water

Spice topping

¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar

Directions:

1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.

3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.

4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.

5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.

9. Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days

Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers (form into a log and slice):

Servings: Approximately 48 crackers

Ingredients

½ cup (120 ml) (1 stick) (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), firmly packed
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 ml) (190 gm/6oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1¾ gm) finely chopped rosemary

Directions:

1. Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)

2. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine
3. Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film

4. Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
5. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
6. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet

7. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
8. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
9. Try this recipe with different cheeses, nuts (or no nuts), and spices. Get creative!

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Storage and freezing outlined in each recipe. Generally I find that crackers with less fat and cheese last for weeks in an airtight container and richer crackers only a few days. 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.

Additional Information:

Here is a link to gluten free crackers, which I found successful: http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2010/01/gluten-free-quinoa-seed-crackers-...

Disclaimer:

The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with. Thank you! Smile

Dana McFarlane
Various listed above
Various listed above