Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Sarah Phillips © 2012 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
I never thought that I would fall in love with making my own whole wheat crackers until I created this recipe. This one is so easy and delicious. The flaky crackers have loads of cheese flavor and are so versatile! You can cut them into any shape (I used the 3-inch rim of a small glass to cut the ones in the photo) and make them in lots of savory flavors. See below to learn my secrets to success.
BREAD RECIPE HELP
I use white whole wheat flour, instead of 100 percent whole wheat flour, for this recipe. Milled from hard white spring wheat, rather than traditional red wheat, it has a finer grind and makes lighter-in-color, milder-tasting baked goods, which lets the cheese flavor shine through. I also added an acid to the dough, in this case vinegar, which gives the crackers a tangy flavor as well as helps tenderize them. The vinegar also ensures that the crackers come out crispy. Finally, I mixed the dough like I would pie dough to enhance the flakiness and crispiness of the crackers (this also helps offset the high-fat cheese which could make the end product mushy).
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) baking powder
3/4 cup grated Gruyere, Aged Gouda or sharp cheddar cheese or a mix of hard cheeses, packed; grate from block hard cheese - do not use pregrated
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and diced into cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice; do not use any other kind of vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water; place ice cubes in water and let chill. Then, measure the water for the recipe.
1 large egg, beaten
1. Add the flour, salt, pepper, ad baking powder to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn on low to combine ingredients.
2. Add in the grated cheese.
3. Turn on low to combine the ingredients and to start breaking-up the cheese shreds.
4. Add the butter and turn the mixer on low. The butter will start to break-up and incorporate into the flour / cheese mixture.
5. Continue to mix the ingredients on low until all of it becomes like coarse meal. The butter particles should be both small and pea size. Do not mix so the mixture comes together.
SARAH SAYS: At this point I stop the mixer, and reach inside the bowl, and pinch the butter pieces and flour together between my thumb and fingertips, and then release. I repeat this for about 3 minutes. The technique is called frisage. It helps with flakiness in the dough.
6. With the mixer on medium-low, drizzle the vinegar, at the side of the bowl, to the flour mixture and mix. Add enough ice water until it the dough just clumps together. The dough will be sticky and feel somewhat wet; do not worry.
7. Gather the dough together and wrap in plastic wrap. Then, flatten it out. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to chill and rest.
8. Meanwhile, position the oven shelf in the middle and preheat it to 325 degrees F.
9. On a cool, floured surface, roll the dough out to a round shape, that is about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick.
10. Cut out dough rounds with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet. Leave about 1/2-inch between each round; the crackers will not spread much.
SARAH SAYS: Stack the dough scraps on top of one another, and then reroll.
11. Pierce the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with salt.
12. Bake the crackers until light golden brown in color, approximately 15 -20 minutes. Remove to a wire cake rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container where the crackers will keep for a few days.
Food styling and photos by Sarah Phillips © Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com