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've made crackers a few times before. Cheddar coins that were rolled too thickly and maybe under-baked, and graham crackers that were so hard, we couldn't eat them. But since I've conquered my fear of rolling out dough, I took on the challenge and made the recipe provided for Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers. I had to modify slightly, because I realized I was out of oregano, and the store only had regular jack cheese. So instead of the oregano, I went with italian spices, and added a good pinch of red pepper flakes to compensate for the lack of heat in the cheese.
They were very flavorful, but spicy enough that I didn't dare give them to the kiddos to taste-test. They were too spicy for my husband, but after leaving the spice topping of a few of them, he happily eat them. I don't often eat crackers, but I found myself going to the kitchen again and again to steal some of those off the cooling rack.
Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers
Servings: Approximately 80 crackers
1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose 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
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.
3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.
4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.
5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.
9. Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
The challenge was to make at least two cracker recipes, using two of three methods: hand rolling, using a pasta machine, or slice and bake crackers. I hate, *hate* the pasta machine and I didn't find an ice box cracker recipe I wanted to try, but I did spot a cracker recipe in LCBO's summer magazine: biscuits au cheddar et aux anchois - cheddar and anchovy crackers. And bonus, I had all the ingredients on hand!
They quickly came together in the food processor, and unlike the pepper jack crackers, did not need to be refrigerated before rolling out. As I gathered the dough to roll it out, it smelled just like a ceasar salad. Very savory. I would totally use these crackers in a salad instead of croutons, or eat them alongside a bowl of creamy tomato soup.
Cheddar and anchovy crackers
recipe source: LCBO's summer 2012 À bon verre, bonne table
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp anchovy paste
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
2 tbsp whipping cream
Combine all ingredients except whipping cream in a food processor, pulsing until evenly distributed. Add the cream and processes until dough comes together.
Turn out the dough on a floured surface, and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out circles. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes, until crackers appear puffed. Let cool.
Out of these two, the cheddar and anchovy cracker was greatly prefered. Thanks for the challenge Dana! Can't wait to see what next month brings!