23 June 2009

Going Crackers

All winter long I have the luxury of baking and cooking throughout the day, since we spend more of our time indoors, than out. Come summer, it's the opposite, and I flee from the house as quickly as I can get the morning chores done (as long as it's not raining, then it's a home-cookin', house-cleanin' laundry day, yes, I do laundry when it rains). It's a good thing then, that our diet changes with summer, and we enjoy simple, fresh meals instead of the heavier winter fare.

And by this time of year, the house get's too unbearably hot (with our wood cookstove still chugging), to bake much yeasted bread. So we go crackers instead. Crackers make great snack food, and pair well with light meals or soups. And of course, like everything else, homemade crackers pop the lid off of the store bought kind.

There are as many cracker recipes as there are ways to enjoy them. You can try almost anything, as long as you end up with a rollable ball of dough. Try some basics, then improvise your own family favorites. There are yeasted crackers that turn out soft and flaky. We tend to like the crisp crackers, either sweet or salty.

Here's my two favorite basic recipes.

Salty Whole Wheat Cracker
2 cups whole wheat (or rye) flour
optional 1/2 cup wheat germ, bran or rolled oats
1/4 cup oil, ghee or softened butter
yogurt, buttermilk or soured milk (add tbsp vinegar to milk to sour)

Mix dry ingredients in bowl (here's where you can add your own flavors like caraway, sesame seed, herbs...)
Blend oil or butter into flour
Add 1/2 cup of yogurt or buttermilk, stir until blended, then knead with your hand, adding extra liquid if needed. You want a medium stiffness, rather like pie crust, something that does not crack when kneaded, or stick to the bowl or hands.

Grease 2 medium cookie sheets. I roll my cracker dough right in the cookie sheet, but you can also roll out on a floured surface. Roll out a 1/4 inch at the thickest, again, you may prefer thin or thicker crackers. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Use a pizza cutter (or knife) to slice the sheet of dough into desired shape, or cut shapes out and transfer to cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 in the middle of the oven until golden brown and crisp, baking time will vary by thickness of dough. If the outside crackers are browning, remove baked crackers and return the rest to the oven.

Graham Cracker
2 cups whole wheat or graham flour
Optional, if using whole wheat add 1/2 cup wheat germ, bran or rolled oats
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (sugar to taste)
medium to heavy cream (Half and Half or Whipping Cream)

Mix sugar into flour.
Add 1/2 cup cream, blend with spoon, then knead with hand, adding cream until reaching desired consistency (see recipe above).

Roll out directly in greased cookie sheets, or on floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Optional: sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cut to desired shape.

Bake at 375 until golden brown. Remove any crackers on the edges that brown before the rest.


Cindy said...

oooo something new and crunchy to bake! Those also seem s whole lot healthier then boxed crackers for sure, great for the kiddos. :) Thanks for the recipes!

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Cindy, definately fresher and healthier than anything with preservatives. Hope the kiddies like 'em, especially the graham crackers, yum!