Daring Bakers Are Crazy For Crackers!

I’m Baaaack!!!  It seems like forever since I have posted a Daring Bakers Challenge, I missed 2 months!!  That is unheard of for me.  I knew I had lots of spare time this month, as I am on Summer Holidays (WOO HOO!!), so I was very eager to see what the challenge was this month.

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 to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

For a moment I had another “really??” moment, “Crackers? Why not a sweet, delicious, rich, decadent dessert?”  Then I calmed down and dove right in.   I was quite excited, I had never thought of making my own crackers.  I love crackers!! If you have a good cracker, you don’t even need to put anything on it.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the time crackers are strictly ‘ladles’ for a delicious cheese spread or topping of some sort.  We all have our favourites that go with certain crackers.  A mild cracker goes with many cheese dips and spreads so you can fully enjoy the topping.  This is nothing better than a crisp fresh cracker with a thick slice of extra old cheddar cheese, (taste buds are going crazy just thinking about it!)

For this challenge we had free reign, our only requirement was that we had to make 2 different types of crackers, prepared two different ways.  They could be rolled, sliced, cut, pasta rolled, etc.  After much searching I decided to go with a sliced and a hand rolled variety.

Parmesan Rosemary Crackers
makes 20 crackers, adapted from Food and Paper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 20 full leaves for decoration
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1.Pulse flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor to combine.

2. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

3. Add cheese and pulse to combine

4. .Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream at a time, pulsing after each addition, until a well-combined dough comes together.

5. Transfer dough to a work surface and shape into a 2-inch-diameter-wide log. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

6.  The next day. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

7. Slice logs into 1/4-inch slices and place them on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet.

8.  Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown, 25-35 minutes.

9. Transfer to a rack to cool.

10. Crackers can be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

These crackers were ok.  They were not quite what I was expecting.  I thought they would have been a lot crisper, like a cracker.  They were a little soft in the middles, more like a savory shortbread.  Maybe I could have cooked them a little longer or sliced them thinner, not sure if the results would have been different.  The flavour was ok, perhaps a little over powering. Probably will not make these ones again.

Cheese Nips

Adapted from Happy Simple Living

Right off the bat I am going to recommend these, they were amazing!!!  Make them!!

8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (or substitute 1 tablespoon unsalted butter)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons ice water

1. Combine the cheese, butter, shortening and salt in a food processor or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

I knew this recipe had to be good, 8 oz of sharp cheddar cheese! Had to stop my self from eating it.  Actually had to grate a little more, as the 8 oz keep dipping into the 7s.

2. Add the flour and pulse or mix on low-speed until the mixture is combined.

3. Add the ice water slowly with the mixer or food processor running. The dough will just start to come together, and should look something like this:

You may need to add a few more drops of water, but go slowly so you don’t overdo it

4.  Gather up the dough and pat it into three disc shapes. Don’t knead it or mess with it too much. Wrap the discs tightly in waxed paper or parchment and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until you’re ready to bake the crackers. The dough can be refrigerated like this for up to 5 days.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes, and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your favorite baking sheet.

7. Gently begin to roll the dough out directly on the parchment paper. At first it may seem a little unyielding…but just take your time and press the cracks back together as you go. ( I found it helpful to dust the parchment and rolling pin with a little flour)

8. Keep persevering, and roll the dough quite thin, to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.

9. Cut the crackers into 1 inch squares. I used my fondant cutter, worked perfectly!

10. Poke a hole in the center of each cracker with a skewer. Along with being decorative, the hole allows the steam to escape which helps your crackers bake up nice and crisp.

11. Use a sharp spatula to separate the crackers gently on the parchment paper and transfer the whole paper. I found it much easier to dip the spatula in flour, kept the nice square shape, no sticking.  Keep the scrap edges, they were quite tasty as well!

12. Bake the crackers for about 12 to 13 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. (Depending on how your oven cooks, your baking time may be more or less so watch the first batch carefully.)

Even the scraps!

13. Cool the whole sheet on a wire baking rack and repeat with the remaining dough. You can serve the crackers warm, or cool them completely and store them in a container with a tight fitting lid.  This recipe makes about 8 dozen crackers.

The verdict? These were delicious!!!  They were crispy and the shape cheddar really came through.  I would have to say they are better than the boxed variety you can buy.  Highly addictive, had to put them away so I would not eat them all in one sitting.  Also, nice with a dip, but I prefer to enjoy the wonderful ‘cheesiness’ on its own.  I will be making these many more times!

Thank you Dana, for such a wonderful challenge!!!  I would have never thought I could have made something better than a boxed cracker 🙂

12 thoughts on “Daring Bakers Are Crazy For Crackers!

  1. Oh my gosh, both of those crackers look amazing, but those cheese nips are calling my name. They look even better than the ones out of the box!! Wonderful work (and welcome back!)! 🙂

  2. If this posts twice feel free to delete it. Your cheese nips look perfect, so pillowy and puffy! Nice job on the challenge!

  3. Great work! I did the same type of crackers as you, but from two different sources – what a coincidence! Both of your different types look much better than mine. Mine were very yummy though – our boys LOVED them!


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