This post was supposed to go live yesterday on the 27th.
I had everything ready (almost) for this post to go live except a few finishing touches which I thought I would be able to do yesterday in a matter of minutes. But yesterday I got no time to sit on my laptop, instead spent the whole day with my friends drinking, being merry and catching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012.
It was a fun day and night, but am back today to post about the Daring Bakers’ Challenge for July.
P.S: It’s my two year Blog anniversary! I had another post lined for today- one with cake (all celebrations need cake!), but guess that will have to wait till tomorrow. For now let’s talk about crackers!
I love when Daring Bakers goes savory because then I can go crazy and not feel too guilty about the added calories that those lovely desserts DB challenges us with.
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 us to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.
Our talented host Dana hasn’t entered the world of blogging but has been a Daring Baker for a couple of years.
I know, why would anyone make crackers at home, when the shelves in the grocery store have tons of boxes lined up for you?
Well, because making crackers at home allows you to avoid the additives that make store bought crackers last for years! Plus, you can go crazy with the flavors and customize the crackers to your own tastes and likings. And its easy- all you need to do is mix the ingredients in to make a dough, let the dough sit in the refrigerator and then shape and bake them. And with Dana’s recipes it really was an easy task- plus they make plenty, so you have lots to share!
Dana mentions that the end product should be crispy so, if after your crackers have cooled they are still little soft, simply pop them back in the oven until crispy. She has noticed that the leaner the dough (less fat and cheese) the more successful they are baked twice. More rich doughs tend to be perfect when browned and less likely to need additional baking. You really are just drying out the dough rather than cooking the ingredients so keep any eye on them and adjust cooking times to suit your oven.
The challenge was to use two different crackers recipes that must be prepared using two different methods of forming.
For my first type of crackers, I chose to make Dana’s health crackers because I love when the stuff I eat is labelled healthy! The recipe calls for the dough to be rolled to about 1/16 inch (1½ mm) thick. So make sure you roll it out really thin. A pasta roller helps but your hands can do the job well too. I used my hands and they were rolled out pretty thin. Make sure you flour the dough well, so that it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin.
I made a few changes to Dana’s recipes (just a few). One, I replaced the all purpose flour called for in the recipe with whole wheat pastry flour. Two, I added some ground flax seeds as well to the recipe- increasing the nutritive value of the crackers. Instead of white sugar I used brown sugar. And I chose not to use egg white for the final brushing of the tops, instead used milk. To make these vegan, use soy milk instead to brush the tops. As the topping I used poppy seeds and sea salt. For the first batch I forgot to sprinkle the sea salt, but believe its the final touch of the sea salt that take these crackers from being good to great!
For the second type of crackers, I chose to try the icebox method of shaping the dough into a log, chilling it and then slicing.
I used Dana’s recipe for Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers. Again for these, I swapped the all purpose flour with the whole wheat pastry flour. I used dried rosemary since I did not have any fresh rosemary on hand. Plus, I used a combination of cheese- cheddar, edam and parmesan cheeses since I did not have the amount of cheddar cheese called for in the recipe.
While they both tasted great, I personally preferred the health crackers as they are so much more healthy than the cheese and rosemary crackers, plus taste great with a slice of cheese on top!
- ½ cup (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
- 2¼ cups (225 gm) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), I used a mix of cheddar (82gm), edam (93gms) and parmesan cheese (50gm)
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (190 gm) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
- 1/2 cup (60 gm) finely chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)
- Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine.
- Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film
- Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
- Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C.
- Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
- Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
- Store in an airtight container and eat within three days. (Makes approx 48 crackers)