Monday, June 23, 2008

Crackers 101

Perhaps you think that the title of this post is an introduction for a little cracker-making tutorial, courtesy of the Red Ramekin kitchen. Indeed, I intended this post to be such a tutorial, but have, after a few failed attempts at making my own whole-grain crackers, admitted to myself that instead, the title of this post is really a plea to you, dear readers and fellow bloggers, for help.

Yes, I'll admit defeat if I must. In general, this blog is dedicated to cooking successes, mostly because I never make anything that doesn't come out spectacularly. Ok, maybe that's not quite right. But I usually can get it together after a few tries at any particular item. With these crackers, though, I think I could use a little advice.

The urge to bake crackers started on Saturday night, when I was at my parents' house. I pulled some Dr. Kracker-brand crackers out of the pantry for a snack, and fell in as much love as one can with crackers with these crunchy, seedy, slightly sweet morsels.

These particular crackers are 100% whole-grain, and have millet, poppy, and pumpkin seeds scattered across their tops. Back at home the next day, I went to Whole Foods to scout them out, and found them on the shelf - for a cool $5 per (rather small) box. I'll pay plenty for good food, but $5 crackers? Why not just make them?

So that has been my little project for the past couple of days, and I can't say I've had much success. I first tried a yeasted dough, but that yielded little pita-like puffs of softish dough. They were tasty, but not exactly crackers. I tried again this morning, using a baking soda-risen dough, but came out with basically the same result (huh? weird, I know...).

It seems obvious that my next attempt should forgo the rising agents altogether, but the Dr. Krackers include yeast, and I want something similar in both taste and texture. Any thoughts, readers? Have you ever made a bad-ass batch of whole-grain crackers? Also, when is the last time you heard the words "bad-ass" and "whole-grain crackers" together in the same sentence?

Luckily for you (and me!) I've managed to make a batch of delicious biscotti-like crackers, which, while nothing like the Dr. Krackers, are a suitable snacking alternative. I'll post about them soon, but in the meantime, help!


mom said...

I can't believe I paid $5 for a box of crackers. Perhaps I was reaching for a cheaper box, and ended up with those in my hands by mistake. Like your picture on FPdaily.

Emma said...

I found a recipe for "lemon crackers" in Joy of Cooking. They are only cheese, flour, lemon zest (????), pepper, butter, water, and lemon juice. I guess it doesn't satisfy your desire for a yeast dough, or for healthy, or for tasty (okay, I probably shouldn't say that if I haven't tried them). I'll email you the recipe if you're interested anyway.

L Vanel said...

I make nut and seed whole grain crackers all the time, and like you it came from a desire to do the same crackers that cost a fortune at the health food shop! Basically, I make them with mix of whole wheat semolina and some white flour, but not much white flour at all. That with a little water and salt. The dough has to be worked a whole lot, similar to the way I might work dough for dumpling skins. I use the pasta press to flatten them, and press the cracker into mixed seeds before a final run through. I bake them in a medium to hot oven until just brown and have lovely crackers. I did the crackers on my blog in January of this year and link to the recipe I used in the post. Good luck making your own crackers, you'll find the right recipe and save tons of money!

Mia said...

Wow - thanks for the tip. I think I will try the pasta roller trick...I think the problem with my last batch was that the dough was too wet, so I didn't get that crispy cracker effect. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Tovie said...

Maybe the yeast in the ingredient list wasn't yeast used for leavening but instead something like nutritional yeast flakes used for flavoring.

Mia said...

Hmm...I never thought of that. Although, now that I've checked the website again, it says that the crackers are "yeast-risen"...still a mystery, I suppose!