The first recipe I made from my new bread cookbook wasn’t bread.
It was Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers.
This may have disappointed my family (I strongly suspect their motives in giving me the book), but since the author, master baker Peter Reinhart, freely admits his own preference for crackers, I know I have very distinguished company outside the bread box.
I was fascinated to find crackers—which I had only known as mass-produced snacks—among recipes for ciabatta, croissants and baguettes. I was further intrigued when Reinhart’s recipes introduced me to a kind of dough so completely different from anything I had worked with before.
Before many days passed, I had turned out half a dozen different batches. I fell in love with the process—and the results were incredible too. Who knew that humble crackers could be so classy and delicious?
And of course, once I learned what cracker dough should look and feel like, I started exploring the possibilities for improvisation. It turns out that of all baked goods, crackers may reign supreme when it comes to the flexibility that makes cooking by guess and by golly so easy and wonderful.
I also discovered that crackers are one of the easiest baked goods to create with gluten-free flours. I made these crackers with ground pecans, but they’d be just as splendid with almonds, pumpkin seeds or a host of other flours.
Savory Nut Crackers
- 2 C nut or seed flours
- 2 eggs (I’ve also used leftover egg whites with good results)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Several turns of fresh ground pepper
- Anything else you like (tsp of dried herbs, 1/2 – 1 C shredded cheddar cheese, handful of sesame seeds, etc.)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Add flour or water as necessary to form a stiff dough (I threw in some leftover oat flour and flax meal).
Roll dough between sheets of parchment, about 1/8″ (3 mm) thick.
Use a small cookie cutter to form crackers…
…or use a pizza cutter for straight lines.
Transfer crackers carefully to a parchment-lined baking sheet or silicone mat.
Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
Bake 20-30 minutes at 300°F (150°C) or until browned and crisp.
Allow to cool on baking sheets for increased crispness.
I didn’t find it necessary to find a good storage container. My crackers weren’t around long enough to go bad.
I know crackers are nothing new. For centuries, people around the world have snacked and subsisted on everything from Cheez-Its and Teddy Grahams to hardtack and matzo. Today, millions of consumers support a highly competitive cracker industry (yet, no one seems to know why Polly wants a cracker).
Still, there is so much room for innovation—especially if you embark on the adventure of making your own.