Cracker junkies

photo(4)I’ll admit it: we are cracker junkies. We love crackers in this house. Other people have cookie jars; we have a cracker jar, which usually contains at least three, usually four different varieties. We eat them between meals, to stave off eating something worse; or for breakfast, with a smear of peanut butter. And my go-to after work snack is a few crackers with slices of cheddar.

And for the past few days, I’ve been really out of sorts: we’ve run out of crackers. Completely. Run. Out. This cannot stand. But, I’ve been working all week and have had stuff going on in the evening, and so, well…I keep forgetting to buy any.

Why I never considered making my own crackers before tonight, I don’t know. But I was desperate, and I didn’t have much to do tonight, so I decided to give it a try. A quick Google search proved that positively oodles of people make their own crackers, and while the recipes varied–some used whole wheat flour, some plain; some added butter, oil, eggs, baking powder, others omitted all of those–the basic takeaway from my search was that making crackers is pretty darn easy.

Plus, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what goes into your cracker. Have you ever looked at a list of ingredients on your average mass-market box of crackers? There are things on there you likely do not want to eat. Soy lecithin, anyone? Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil? Oh, and let’s not forget, Natural Flavor. MMMM. Yes, there are good brands too, those organic-stone-ground-small-batch sort of crackers, which are tasty and great and you feel virtuous buying them. But, they will take half your paycheck before you can say “wedge of brie”.

Which brings me to the recipe. I still cannot believe how ridiculously easy these were to make. One bowl, one spoon, and a rolling pin. Thirty minutes later, voilà.

I went simple with this first batch, just pepper & thyme, but I can already tell these will be adaptable for lots of ingredients, like some shredded cheese, or other herbs or spices. They’re also whole wheat, so I can feel virtuous while eating them. Even with the cheddar cheese I sliced to put on top.

Thyme & black pepper whole wheat crackers

Adapted from several recipes, but mostly this one.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 15-20 grinds of freshly ground pepper (largest setting)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°. Have two sheet pans ready.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, thyme and pepper together. Add water & oil to bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.  Divide dough in half. Lightly dust a piece of parchment paper (the size of your sheet pan), and roll out one of the balls of dough until it’s very thin (about 1/8″ thick)–it should mostly fill the parchment–using a little extra flour for dusting if needed to avoid the dough sticking to the pin.

Gently lift the parchment onto the sheet pan, and use a knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough into squares of whatever size you like. Don’t worry about separating the crackers; most will separate while baking, and those that don’t will be easy to snap apart once crisp.

Repeat with second piece of parchment and ball of dough. Place both pans in the oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until crackers are beginning to brown lightly on the edges, and are mostly crisp (they will crisp more as they cool). Switch pans top to bottom halfway through baking.

Remove from oven, and slide parchment and crackers onto cooling racks. Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature. If they last that long.

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