United States of Bread (Running Press, 2014), by Adrienne Kane, contains 75 vintage American bread recipes — everything from yeast breads and quick breads, sweet rolls to bread puddings, and even what to do with dried bread. Included for the novice bread baker are helpful sidebars about fermentation, equipment and flours. For the more experienced baker and history enthusiast is intriguing information on classic American bread-making. The following excerpt from the chapter "Flatbreads & Fry Breads" is a homemade crackers recipe.
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Americans love to snack—so let’s snack right. If you have never attempted baking homemade crackers, put down whatever you are doing, wander to the kitchen, tie on your apron, and give it a try. You will not be sorry that you did. I might even hazard a guess and say that you will never want to return to the days of store-bought crackers again.
If you have ever looked at the ingredients listed on the back of box of snacks, then you have encountered the list of unpronounceable, multi-syllabic preservatives that they are comprised of. It doesn’t have to be that way. At their purest, a cracker is just a handful of delectable ingredients, rolled, cut, and of course, baked.
These wheat crackers are an exercise in balance—salty and sweet, light and hearty—and they taste nutty from the abundance of whole wheat flour. The most difficult part to homemade crackers is rolling them out. The thinner the dough is rolled, the crisper the cracker will be. This dough is not too sticky, and the gluten structure is not too strong, so rolling the dough is relatively easy. Just make sure your work surface is well-floured; it would be a shame to roll out your dough very thin only to have it stick, making the transfer to the baking sheet impossible.
Homemade Crackers Recipe
• 1-1/4 cups (6-1/4 ounces) whole wheat flour
• 3/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for sprinkling
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
• 5 tablespoons ice water
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, arranging the racks on the bottom and top thirds of the oven.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, table salt, and honey until combined. Add the butter, and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. With the processor on, add the water. Continue to process until the dough begins to form a ball. This may require a bit more water. If so, add a bit of ice water by the teaspoonful.
3. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough as well, and roll it out to no more than 1/8 inch thick. With a cookie cutter or small, 1-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut cracker shapes from the dough. Alternately, to make squares, with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut 1-1/2-inch squares from the dough. Place the crackers on two parchment-lined baking sheets. The crackers will spread very little during baking, so it is fine to place them close to each other. With the tines of a fork, prick each cracker several times. Sprinkle additional salt on top, patting the salt lightly into the crackers.
4. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges, rotating the pans halfway through the baking process. The baking time will be dependent upon how thick the crackers are. Remove them from the oven, let them cool slightly on the pan, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Homemade crackers will continue to firm and crisp as they cool. Store them in an airtight container for up to one week.
Reprinted with permission from United States of Bread © 2014 by Adrienne Kane, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Buy this book from our store: United States of Bread: Our Nation's Homebaking Heritage: From Sandwich Loaves to Sourdough.