Sunday, April 27, 2008

polly wanna?

I've been baking a lot of crackers lately. It's instant-gratification baking; no rising, no long baking times, no kneading, no frosting: one bowl, one baking sheet, two pieces of wax paper and a rolling pin. Done!

And, of course, you get munchable, munchable crackers at the end. And unlike cookies, you can eat as many as you want without any qualms!

Here are the three recipes that I've tried out. The process is essentially the same for all three: to roll them out, place the dough between two pieces of wax paper. If you are broke and clueless, butter two pieces of parchment paper like I did. Works! Then roll it out with a rolling pin until it is "1/4 inch thick." Or, as I like to say, pretty thin.

Score it deeply with a knife, prick each square with a fork a couple of times, and sprinkle on top anything you want to sprinkle on top.

The contenders:

1. (from Bob's Red Mill Rye Crackers)
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar
1 tsp baking powder
4 T margarine
3 T milk

Combine dry ingredients; work in margarine with a pastry knife; stir in milk to make a soft dough. Roll out VERY thin -- 1/8 -1/16th inch, and score. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes.

These were very hard to roll out as skinny as the recipe asks for, which is probably why the crackers I wound up with were rather too thick. They were crisp, but not overly so, and took rather longer than 5-6 minutes to bake. Also, they seemed to bake better when separated, not just scored, which is way too much work. With salt on top, they were okay -- not great, though. And I always strive for greatness. NEXT!

2. From Mark Bittman's cracker recipe

3/4 c white flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 t salt
2 T cold butter
1/4 cup water
2 t honey

Combine dry ingredients. Work in butter with a pastry knife. Add the water and honey, and combine to make a soft dough; add more water if necessary. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, score, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Flaky and delicious! These crackers were almost pastry-like -- not surprising, looking at the recipe -- and very, very flaky. They were crisp, and browned nicely without having to be separated. Topped with salt, they were good; topped with sugar and cinnamon? Freaking amazing. Houston, we have a keeper.

3. from straight from the farm's artisan herb crackers
1 c white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp dried herbs
1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
3/8 c water

Combine dry ingredients. Add olive oil and water, then more water if necessary, to make a rough dough. Knead briefly, until the dough comes together. Roll, score, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

These cookies were denser than the last, with a harder sort of crunch. Mine also tasted DREADFUL -- but that's my fault. I scribbled down notes on the recipe a couple days before baking it, and "dried herbs" became transmuted to "fresh herbs." So I put in fresh rosemary, and the flavor was downright overwhelming. The batch got chucked, that's now much I couldn't stand it.

I don't blame the recipe, though. I might try again in the future... but I'll wait a while.

We have a winner... Mark Bittman, I'm buying your books at the first opportunity!

Should I get How To Cook Everything, or How To Cook Everything Vegetarian? I just don't know.

No comments: