Last Saturday, Scott and I did a cooking demo at Foster’s Homewares in Old City Philadelphia. We’ve been doing these for nearly two full years now, a live version of Fork You, our online cooking show. We made a small array of nibbly little appetizers, things that would be perfect to serve at a holiday party or to bring with you to some seasonal potluck. They were also all virtuously cheap.
On the menu was a caramelized onion and thyme jam (served on some baguette toasts), a warm cranberry-orange compote that I poured over a log of goat cheese and some homemade crackers that we used to eat the cranberries and cheese. The results were delicious and those that had braved the snow happily ate up all that we made.
As I was planning out those recipes, I kept thinking that bringing the homemade cracker recipe to this blog wasn’t an entirely bad idea. You see, as delicious as it is to give someone a jar of homemade jam or chutney for the holidays, sometimes you want to bring balance to the offering with a nice, easy vehicle for your handmade spread. If you’re really feeling generous, you can also include a nice round or wedge of cheese that will pair nicely with the jam (feel free to copy me and get yourself a log of nice, mild chevre. It goes with just about any sweet preserve).
The other thing about homemade crackers is that they impress people to no end. Give them jam and they’re happy, but tell them you made the crackers and their jaws just drop. I took a platter of these crackers to a party on Saturday night and when I told people that they were a product of my kitchen, they were floored. It was as if I had demonstrated an ability to fly that simply required some speedy arm flapping.
If you have enough spares, feel free to package the crackers in jars for gifting. A wide mouth quart jar of crackers (perhaps with the recipe tucked inside, so that they can replenish the stash when they’re all gone) paired with a jar of homemade spread would be such a treat.
If your holiday gift fund doesn’t stretch to cover another dozen jars, another nice way to package the crackers is to put them in a zip top bag that you then tuck into a small-ish brown paper bag. The plastic bag keeps the air out and the paper one maintains the rustic, homemade look. If you have kids, you can give them the project of decorating the paper bags (prior to putting the crackers in them), so that they’re all colorful and unique.
The recipe for the crackers is after the jump. Enjoy!
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (add a bit more if you like a saltier cracker)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- Pre-heat over to 450 degrees.
- Combine the flours and salt in a bowl. Add the olive oil and water and stir until you have a cohesive ball of dough (you’ll need to use your hands to really get it all together). Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
- While you wait, mix up a spice/seed blend (skip this if you want plain, salted crackers). Sometimes, I’ll swap out rosemary for the fennel and add some salt to this combo for a slightly different take.
- After the dough has rested a bit, divide it into two pieces, flour a board and rolling pin and roll the dough out until it’s as thin as you can get it. Put on a parchment-covered cookie sheet, brush with water and sprinkle with your spice/seed mixture or salt (kosher or a coarse sea salt is best here). Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into squares or diamonds and bake for 10-12 minutes).
- Let the crackers cool completely and then store them in an airtight container. If you don’t eat them all up, they’ll last at least a week on the counter. They are also delicious sprinkled with parmesan cheese.