Excellent crackers to eat with cheese.
Sorry about taking last week off. Life decided to get all wacky on me, which I’m sure you’ve experienced first hand. Before I start talking about the simple pleasure of making crackers, there are a few neat things I’d like to share.
Firstly, Hank Shaw of the always amazing Hunter Gardner Angler Cook was nominated FOR ANOTHER JAMES BEARD AWARD! It warms my heart knowing that such an awesome site as Hank’s is getting the nod again for its excellent content. I’m pulling for you to bring the award home Hank!
Prolific commenter E. Nassar has a post up over at his website Oven-Dried Tomatoes titled, “The Fat Duck: Beef Royal (1723), Course 2” from Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. Here’s a picture that should set your tongue a-waggin:
Did you see Anthony Bourdain’s recent No Reservations show on Techniques? No? Go here, quickly.
Okay, on to crackers.
I wasn’t crazy about making crackers at first, I’ve got to admit. Even now, I’m more likely to pick up a box of fancy crackers at the supermarket rather than bake my own. And yet, there is a soothing simplicity to these tasty cheese transports.
The recipe starts off with a lot of all purpose flour. More than six cups, actually. Mr. Henderson does say that, “these quantities will make plenty” and he’s not joking around. Into the flour went some of the baking powder, and here’s where I made a mistake. One of my puppies needed to go outside, and I completely lost track of how much baking powder I had added. It was seriously a Dirty Harry moment. I could hear the flour taunting me.
“I know what you’re thinking. Did you put one tablespoon of baking powder in, or two? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a bowl full of all purpose flour, the most versatile flour in the world , and you would hate to have to buy another bag right now, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
Not feeling too lucky at all, I added another half teaspoon and crossed my fingers.
Into the flour went all three of the seeds above: poppy, dill, and caraway. The seeds and a little salt add a lot of extra flavor to the otherwise bland crackers.
Extra-virgin olive oil was then carefully mixed into the flour along with a little cold water to form a non-sticky soft dough…
…like so. It took a little while to knead that much dough, but I think I did a decent job. A baker, I am not.
To prove that I’m not a baker, I didn’t own a rolling pin at the time. I do now thankfully, but a cleaned wine bottle was my instrument of choice.
It did a pretty decent job of flattening out the dough, but I wasn’t sure about the thickness. Mr. Henderson asks for a quarter of an inch thick dough, but that seems a little thick to me.
Forging ahead, I started cutting out crackers from the dough with a shot glass. It was the perfect size for making crackers.
On to a sheet pan went the cut crackers…
…which went into a medium hot oven for about 10 minutes or so. Mr. Henderson stresses that one should keep your eyes on the crackers, as they tend to burn. Not on my watch!
Here are the completed crackers with an assortment of lovely cheeses. I wish I could regale you with lots of neat info about these crackers, about how they are easily superior to store crackers, but I can’t. They’re very good crackers. I had fun making them, and will make them again in the future, but a four dollar box of crackers at the supermarket will usually suffice just fine for most occasions.
One down, fifty eight to go.