Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarlane 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. You can make crackers a variety of different ways. 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. Cheeses can be swapped, flours altered and spices changed as long as you make small crispy platforms on which to add a myriad of toppings.

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) 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.

HEALTH 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

Method:

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

  • 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.
  • Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3. Divide the dough into quarters.

  • Work with one piece at a time, allowing the remaining pieces to stay in the fridge as you proceed with rolling out the crackers.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/16 inch (1½ mm) thick.

  • Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet by carefully wrapping the dough around the rolling pin.
  • Brush the dough with egg white mixed briefly with a tbs of water and sprinkle with seeds and salt of your choice.

  • Cut the dough with a pizza wheel and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned.
  • Store in an airtight container and eat within two weeks. Makes approx 80 crackers.

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SEEDY CRISPS

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

Method:

  • Mix the flours, 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.
  • Allow to rest, covered, on the counter for 15 minutes. You can also chill the dough at this point and come back later.

  • Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8. 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.
  • Ensure the dough is well-floured so as not to stick. Place strips of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

  • If the crackers are thick, bake for 7 mins, flip over and bake for 7 mins more. Cut or break into crackers shapes while still warm.
  • Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until crispy.If not crispy enough when cooled, crackers can be returned to the oven.
  • Store in an airtight container and eat within 2 weeks. Servings: Varies depending on thickness; approximately 50 crackers.

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PEPPER JACK AND OREGANO 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

For the 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

Method:

  • Combine spice topping and set aside. Grate cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.

  • Add enough water for the dough to come together. Form the dough into two disks and wrap with cling film.
  • Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.

  • Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out with pasta rollers to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.
  • If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick. Cut strips into cracker shapes using a cookie cutter.

  • Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with spice mixture. Bake for 20-25 mins until medium golden brown.
  • Store in an airtight container and eat within three days. Servings: Approximately 80 crackers.

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CHEDDAR, ROSEMARY AND WALNUT ICEBOX 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, 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

Method:

  • Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand).
  • Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine. Form the dough into two tight 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 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins.

  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • Store in an airtight container and eat within three days. Servings: Approximately 48 crackers.

Storage & Freezing Instructions

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.

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