Friday, July 27, 2012

Homemade Crackers: Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers and Cheddar Rosemary Icebox Crackers (DB)

Our July 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.

It's been quite some time since I made homemade crackers, so it's hard for me to compare this experience with my previous one.  However, I found that both of these recipes were extremely quick and easy to execute.  The icebox crackers, in particular, were very simple.  Just mix everything together and form the dough into a log and refrigerate; then slice and bake when ready.


My schedule is a bit hectic these days, so I stuck with the recipes as written and didn't take any creative license with them.  The only thing I changed was to omit the walnuts from the cheddar rosemary crackers because I don't care for nuts.

Both types of crackers were very flavorful.  My only complaint would be that the cheddar rosemary crackers were way too salty; so I'll definitely cut back on the salt next time.  These crackers reminded me of a gourmet version of cheezits; the rosemary is such a wonderful addition.

I really enjoyed this challenge because it reminded me of how much I love making my own crackers.  With a toddler to feed, I love that I can make her a snack that doesn't have all the additives and preservatives that are found in store bought crackers.

Thanks Dana, for hosting this month's challenge.  You'll find the recipes below.  Also be sure to check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see what everyone else thought of these savory homemade treats.

Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):

Servings: Approximately 80 crackers

Ingredients

1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated pepper jack cheese, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 gm) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (½ gm) black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) water

Spice topping

¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar

Directions:

1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.

3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.
4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.
5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.

9. Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days

Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers (form into a log and slice):

Servings: Approximately 48 crackers

Ingredients

½ cup (120 ml) (1 stick) (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), firmly packed
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 ml) (190 gm/6oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt (I found this to be way too much! try 1/4-1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1¾ gm) finely chopped rosemary

Directions:

1. Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)

2. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine
3. Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film

4. Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
5. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
6. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
7. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
8. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
9. Try this recipe with different cheeses, nuts (or no nuts), and spices. Get creative!

Storage and Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Generally crackers with less fat and cheese last for weeks in an airtight container and richer crackers only a few days. Dough can be made days ahead, stored in the fridge and baked when needed. The icebox cracker dough can be frozen for several months before thawed, sliced and baked.

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