I always make my own crackers. Actually, I don't remember the last time I bought them. I love to make different flavors of crackers and include them in gift baskets. People always really seem to appreciate the effort. The great thing about making your own crackers is that it's really no effort at all. You would think by the pricetag of some of the artisan crackers out there that they are really hard to make but it's quite the opposite. The best part though, is that you can flavor them any way you like. I usually make parmesan rosemary and spicy whole wheat crackers but I didn't have any rosemary on hand and I've been wanting to try this recipe from Cook Like Mad since I saw it on Tastespotting.
I decided to try the salsa version and I highly recommend it. However, the plain recipe is a perfect base cracker and would do well with any additional seasonings of your choice. This is a fantastic recipe, the crackers are so delicious. One thing I often find when making crackers at home is they usually brown too fast on the bottom and end up slightly chewy, not crisp. To avoid this, I bake the crackers on a rack. You'll also want to keep a close eye on them and if you find them browning too quickly just lower the heat. That's it, that's the secret to home made crackers. Simple, delicious and always crowd pleasing. Who knew it could be so easy?
RECIPE (courtesy of Cook Like Mad:)
3 cups all purpose flour (you can subsitute half this amount for whole wheat or ww pastry flour, if desired)
1 tbsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
optional: 1/4 cup salsa (I prefer the finely chopped kind with a medium amount of heat, but it’s your choice).
* If using salsa, reduce water to 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchments paper. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, then add oil and water (and salsa, if using). Mix well to create a fairly stiff dough, adding a little more water if necessary (depending on climate, humidity, etc, you might need a little more water to make the dough easier to roll out). Cut the dough in 4 even pieces, and wrap in plastic. Let rest on the counter for 15 minutes to fully relax. Taking one piece of dough at a time, roll dough out on a very lightly floured surface, to no more than 1/8th of an inch, and less if possible. If you have a pasta machin, feel free to use it to thin out the dough to less than 1/8th of an inch thickness. Use a small (about 2 inch diameter) round cookie cutter, a knife, or a pastry cutter to cut crackers from the dough. Prick each cracker with a fork to prevent it from rising too much in the oven. (If you don’t care about the crackers looking uniform, you can save time and prick the dough prior to cutting it into shapes.) Place crackers on the baking sheets. Spacing isn’t necessary since they really don’t expand much, just don’t let them touch. Place baking sheets in the oven, rotating them half way, to ensure even cooking, for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack and serve, or place in tins or bags to store. They keep for 1 month.
Note: If you like saltier crackers, brush on a thin coat of olive oil once they are on the baking sheets and sprinkle them with coarse salt prior to baking.
Makes 5-6 dozen crackers (depending on size)