Story and Photography By Jim Long
I began making my own crackers years ago as an alternative to the high-fat, high-calorie, chemical-laden packaged snack crackers available on the market. When I first started looking for recipes, though, I quickly discovered that cookbooks rarely offer instructions for making crackers from scratch. I began experimenting and soon realized that cracker making is simple—easier than making cookies—and uses very basic ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
Virtually all crackers are made with flour, water, some seeds or herbs and sometimes a bit of oil. From that basic list, I’ve developed about three dozen kinds of crackers that I make for party snacks. I try to use locally ground whole wheat flour, and instead of oil in some of my recipes I use cheese or yogurt. Since I’m an avid herb grower with access to 150 to 200 different culinary herbs, I like to incorporate those into my recipes for variety. And the seeds and chili peppers come from my garden, too.
The basics of cracker making are: combining the ingredients, resting the dough and rolling it out very thin to 1/8 inch or less (the thinner the dough, the crispier the cracker); the dough is then cut into pieces with a knife or pizza cutter, pricked with a fork to let the steam escape and baked until golden brown.
An easy starter cracker is my Jalapeño Cheese Cracker. If you don’t have jalapeños, use any similar pepper with some low to moderate heat. These have a delicious peppery flavor and are perfect for dips or a quick snack.
TIPS FOR CRISPY CRACKERS:
* Prick the cracker several times with a fork
* Cook until the cracker snaps in two easily
* Don't overcook. Cook just until golden brown on the edges.
* After the crackers are completely cooled, store in an airtight container
* If the crackers lose their crispness before you have used them up, place them on a baking sheet in a 200° oven for about 10 minutes.