From the Chronicle Kitchen:
Crackers & Dips
Have you ever made homemade crackers? If you have to resort to store-bought, what’s your favorite cracker brand and type?
Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of guest blogger Ivy Manning’s wonderful, newly released cookbook Crackers & Dips: More Than 50 Handmade Snacks (giveaway good in the US and Canada only).
I’m a food writer and recipe developer, which is a fairly lonely job—I spend most of my time at my keyboard and in my kitchen, alone. That’s why I love throwing big parties; I relish having company around cooking. I am a feeder.
When it came time for me to throw a “launch party” for my Chronicle cookbook Crackers and Dips, my inner feeder really came out. I made double of 12 kinds of crackers and 4 dips from my book. I baked for 3 days, and loved every second of it. I staged the party at the Cheese Bar in Portland, Oregon, a cheese shop of stupendous quality and charm (I secretly dream of being locked inside overnight someday). So in addition to all the crackers, there was cheese, charcuterie, and chutneys, oh my!
Launch parties are a bit nerve racking, especially if you’re at all high-strung (who, me?). Think about it: invite 70 of the best and brightest food writers, chefs, bakers, and foodcentrics from your community to a party and then cook for them. Eek!
It’s something akin to seeing your child perform on stage: You’re petrified for them, you pray they do well, but in the end, you have to just sit back and let them go on. And then you hear the audience’s applause (or “yums” in my case), you swell with pride, and you leave knowing that all the hard work and practice were worth it. There’s your baby, out on its own, looking delicious and making people happy. Wow!
I’ve included a recipe for everyone’s favorite cracker from the launch party, Swedish Caraway Rye Crisps for you to try. They’re as easy as mixing together flour and water, and they’ve got an addictive snap and a earthy caraway flavor that makes them perfect for topping with smoked salmon, or better yet, Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche Dip from my book. After the first crunch, I know you’ll never go back to store-bought crackers again, promise!
Swedish Caraway Rye Crisps
I fell head over heels in love with dark, crisp rye crackers during a recent trip to Scandinavia. Every morning, my husband and I sat down with his gracious relatives who offered us hearty breakfasts of rye crisps topped with a tantalizing array of gorgeous smoked and pickled fish. It seemed an odd way to start the day at first, but we were quickly hooked. Now the smørbrød breakfast has become something of a weekend ritual in our house; there’s nothing better than lingering over the newspaper while nibbling on gravlax, herring, cheese, and pickles mounded on crisp rye crackers.
These crackers keep really well, so I often make a double batch and give them as gifts, packed into decorative jars or boxes with a jar of Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche Dip or Fresh Artichoke Dip (both featured in the book) alongside to decorate them.
Makes 30 crackers
1 cup/115 g dark rye flour
1 cup/125 g unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds
2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in/6-mm cubes
1/2 cup/120 ml whole milk
1 tbsp molasses
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
2 tsp caraway seeds
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/ gas 6. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a food processor or large bowl, combine the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and ground caraway and pulse or whisk to combine. Add the butter and pulse or rub with your fingers until the butter is in tiny pieces and the mixture resembles fine cornmeal, 15 one-second pulses.
In a measuring cup with a spout, combine the milk and molasses and stir until the molasses has completely dissolved. Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and pulse or stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 25 strokes. The dough will be slightly sticky; add flour only as necessary. Divide the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to this point and stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days.)
Run the dough through a pasta maker following the instructions on page 13 until the dough is about 1/16 in/2 mm thick, the 5 setting on most pasta makers. Alternatively, pat one ball of dough into a small rectangle and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is 1/16 in/2 mm thick, lifting the dough and rotating occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking, and adding flour only as necessary.
Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into long 2-in-/5-cm-wide strips; reserve any scraps. Transfer the strips to a prepared baking sheet and repeat the process of rolling and cutting with the remaining dough and scraps.
Brush the crackers lightly with the beaten egg and sprinkle them with the caraway seeds. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press down gently to adhere the seeds to the crackers. Prick the crackers with a fork or comb. Use a pastry wheel or pizza cutter to cut the strips crosswise into 4-in-/10-cm-long crackers.
Bake until the crackers are golden brown around the edges and no longer pliable, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets once from top to bottom and from back to front while baking. Watch carefully to make sure the crackers do not burn. Cool the crackers on racks and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
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Latest posts by Ivy Manning (see all)
- Easy Soups + Quick Breads: Jamaican Pork and Sweet Potato Stew with Cornbread - November 15, 2017
- From the Chronicle Kitchen:
Crackers & Dips - May 1, 2013
Finding Balance with A Beautiful Mess (and a Recipe for Miso Granola)October 20th, 2017
10 Ways to Feed the Resistance (and a Recipe for Spiced Mung Bean Wraps)October 17th, 2017
Behind the Scenes: Photo Styling for The Art of the Bar CartSeptember 22nd, 2017