One of the ways we try to live sustainably at the Runamuk homestead, is to make what we can by hand. From the hive-boxes my husband constructs for me, to the home-grown vegetables and homemade bread that we eat. Not only is it cheaper, but usually the quality is superior, and there is a certain amount of pride that comes with the do-it-yourself approach that you just can’t buy.
I’ve been baking my own homemade bread for more than a year now–not exclusively–I do have times when I will opt to buy a loaf of higher-quality multi-grain bread at the grocery store-usually in the summer when it is just too hot to think about using the oven except on rainy days. But now I am learning to make my own crackers too. So far I have made honey-graham crackers, and today I tried a new recipe for cheddar crackers, which I found via my favorite recipe site: allrecipes.com.
I like perusing recipe sites and printing out the ones that seem like they might suit our family’s tastes–I have pocket-folders with these stored away about the house. Not all of the recipes I print get tested, and not all the recipes that get tested are winners, but it keeps our palette from becoming too routine, and, as we strive to become increasingly self-sustainable, these little experiments are crucial.
Here is the recipe I tested today–Cheddar Crackers (use the link to see the original recipe at allrecipes.com–it was rated with four stars).
I did not include the white pepper in our crackers, partly because-well–I didn’t have any in my cupboards–and partly because, while the rest of the family doesn’t mind a little spiciness-Summer, my youngest son–does not like spicy foods.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cups butter (I prefer to use real butter to processed margorine, which is kept in the refrigerator so I cut the sticks into chunks and softened it slightly in the microwave)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
6 tablespoons cold water-or as needed
It was fairly simple stuff–sift the dry ingredients together, then cut the butter in with a pastry knife “until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs”, then stir in the shredded cheese.
According to the recipe you’re supposed to chill the dough 30 minutes, but in my experience, doughs that require chilling are difficult to roll out without the dough splitting apart as you roll it. So I might have chilled mine 15 minutes, and then I rolled it out onto my biggest wooden cutting board (which was made by my hubby–isn’t is lovely!?). I tried to get it to the 1/8-inch thickness noted in the recipe, but some spots might have been slightly thicker.
Please note the ruler–yes I’m a bit of a perfectionist–I used it to measure the width of my crackers for cutting, but I went with 2″x2″ versus the 1×3 inch strips directed in the recipe. Then I used my trusted metal spatula to transfer the crackers from the cutting board to the cookie sheet, which I’d carefully lined with waxed paper.
Finally–and this wasn’t mentioned at all in the recipe, but after pricking the graham crackers with a fork when I’d made those, it seemed to make good sense to me to prick these crackers as well. Also I like the visual appeal.
I sprinkled the crackers with some fine sea salt, set the timer for 10 minutes and put them in the oven.
After taste-testing the crackers I decided that next time I would either decrease the amount of salt in the dough, or omit the final dusting–the salt wasn’t overwhelming, but just slightly too much with the taste of the sharp cheddar.
Also, I may try baking the crackers the full twelve minutes next time around, these were rather flaky and remind me of pie-crust, as compared to a crispy cracker. Yet my graham crackers also came out softer than store-bought crispy-crackers, so perhaps homemade crackers are just going to be softer–or maybe I should have cooked the graham crackers longer too?
Still the kids ate them as a snack, and hubby took some off to work with him, so the crackers were edible and–dare I say–even tasty.
What do you think? Do you make your own crackers at home? Got any tips to share?