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.
I was happy with the challenge type this month, since I am still trying (trying hard) not eat so many sweets after a very sweet beginning to July. (You might have noticed that I bowed out of the challenge last month, which was the Battenberg Cake
.) I have made thousands of crackers of different types over the past few years, even helping to test a recipe book of them
that will be coming out next Spring, so I decided to pluck a type of recipe from our challenge that I usually don't make: icebox crackers. I made it as written, unaltered, and they were delicious.
Like the cookies of the same name, icebox dough is formed into logs, chilled in the fridge or frozen, and then baked off on demand. I actually need to revisit this type of butter-based cookie, since I had forgotten how nice it is to simply slice, bake and serve. I served these as the appetizer to the dinner I've written about
in the last two posts, the dinner that seems to continually keep on giving, since I stashed one of the two logs of this cracker dough in the freezer for another day as well.
I got a 2-year aged white cheddar for these crackers, from Wisconsin of course, and the flavor was very good - especially with an array of jams and jellies spread thickly over the tops of them. My favorite preserves with this cracker were the tart cherry jam
and concord grape with rosemary
. For some reason, I can not have enough rosemary! The 3 of us polished off all but 2 of the 26 crackers I baked just before dinner (and just before baking my dessert). I would suspect if you fancy a salty, elegant cracker, you would find them disappearing quickly as well.
I had to bake the crackers at least 10 minutes longer than the recipe suggested. (I baked them one tray at a time in the center of the oven, and found the time to be consistently longer with both trials.) You might try turning up the oven heat by 25 degrees and keeping an eye on them. Aim for just browned crackers around the edges that don't feel soft at all in the middle.
I also made these by metric weight.
Rosemary Walnut Crackers
(Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen
about 48 crackers
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) (115 g/4 oz) butter, well softened
- 2 1/4 cups (225 g/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese, firmly packed
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (190 g/6oz) ap flour
- 1 t. (5 ml) (6 g) salt (you may be able to omit if the cheese is very salty)
- 1/2 cup (60 g/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
- 1 T. (1 3/4 g) finely chopped rosemary
Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a large bowl and beat well by hand (or with hand mixer, or in a stand mixer). Add flour, salt and nuts, and stir to combine. (If the dough is much too crumbly, add a tablespoon or two of water.)
Form the dough into two logs, wrap tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to several days. (Can freeze for several months.)
Preheat oven to 325, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the crackers to 1/5 of an inch (5 mm - and yes, I did measure them), and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, and eat immediately. Store any leftovers in a glass, air-tight container in the refrigerator, where they will taste good for a few days. They are best just after baking, however.
The Daring Kitchen site will have the other recipes from the challenge this month. Alton Brown's Seedy Crisps made the list; they remain one of my favorites. A few other favorites from my own kitchen experimenting are the Gluten Free Multigrain Cracker, the slightly time consuming Sprouted Grain and Poppy Seed Crackers, perfectly grahamy Vegan Graham Crackers, and ultra crisp Ivy's Swedish Rye Crackers.
I do really love making crackers, and I know I've said it before that nothing made at home makes people as impressed as them. For such a small time investment, you can enjoy something really singular in flavor and texture, and so many of them pair so well with things culled from the canning shelves!
Find the other Daring Baker Cracker Challenge recipes here
, and the blogroll of other bakers here
. Thank you to Dana for great challenge, and the inspiration to make more things icebox!