Krissywatts' cracker report
Last weekend I finally made crackers based on Krissywatts' recent posting. They were just as easy and delicious as promised! Although I usually add a lot of herbs to everything I make (I am as keen a gardener as a cook), I made these very plain, topped with only coarse salt and black pepper, since they were going to serve as vehicles for a variety of cheeses. I used olive oil as the fat.
I brought them to a friend's house for a dinner party and they were gobbled up even more enthusiastically than the cheese, specially selected from Artisanal during a recent trip to NY! I will be experimenting, often, with different permutations.
A couple of questions for krissywatts on technique, though. I ended up kneading the dough a bit before pressing it into the pan, since it wasn't very smooth out of the bowl. Should I avoid doing this? It didn't seem to harm anything, but the crackers were a little bit thicker than I expected them to be, about 1/8 inch. Along those same lines, I used one rather large sheet pan rather than two smaller ones. I don't think I could have stretched the dough out any more, but maybe I should have made more effort in pursuit of the thinnest, crispiest crackers?
Having said that, even in their thicker-than-expected state these were extremely good--thanks very much for this great recipe!
I'm SO glad they turned out well. Posting a recipe always makes me a bit edgey thinking 'what if they HATE them?' and then of course, the people pleaser in me gets all defeated.....
But i digress:
I like them really thin, but I also like that they come out uneven so mine tend to be a bit thin in some places and thicker in others. I have noticed that if there are a few holes from stretching really thin, they fill in as they cook and spread out. Try them the other way and see which you like better. Besides burning them, I don't think you an go wrong with this recipe.
I don't think the kneading is an issue. My dough always comes out smooth and I don't try to stretch until it is smooth so maybe I knead a few times too and never realized it.
I'm thrilled they went over well. I'm really hung up on the version I make with rosemary.
With the salt and pepper did you add before you cooked or after?
I added the S&P before cooking, in the hopes that they would stick to the crackers (they did!).
I too like very crispy crackers; I was thinking that when cooking the next batch (with rosemary!), I might try to bake them on parchment on a pizza stone, just to see what happens. Have you tried anything like this? I also had a slight problem getting the dough thin enough around the edges of the sheet pan, and I thought this might ameliorate it.
This recipe is a real keeper. One of the dinner guests, a confirmed cheesaholic, said, while food was being passed around: "forget the cheese, I'll just have a pile of these!!!" And how great to be able to make crackers to much on that are not full of dubious ingredients!
Did you use your fingers to flatten the dough or another method? I 'walk' my fingers across the dough keeping them close together and sometimes start with my palm and smoosh it out to the edges then 'walk' some more to even it out (so hard to explain without an explanation). I think once you keep doing it, you'll find ways to make them more even. I'll be very interested to hear how the pizza stone and parchment works - I'm in love with my shiny sheet cake pans, but let me know!
Can you repost the recipe for hoodie?? I am upstate and away from my recipes....
I tried searching the board and scrolling back through recent posts, but I can't find this recipe. Would you mind re-posting? thanks!
Did you cut them before baking?
Someone tell me if I did something wrong: I made the dough, let it rest, but when I went to roll it out it was very, very springy. It took quite a long time to make it fill a baking sheet. I used a combination of a rolling pin and pushing with my fingers.
I did two sheets. The first, I baked whole and then just cracked into shards after baking and cooling. these crackers were very thin and crispy.
The second sheet I rolled out the same way (still took forever, even though this dough rested longer), but I used a pizza cutter to cut it into squares. As soon as I cut it, the springy dough bounced back into smaller, thicker squares! The baked crackers in this batch were much thicker and bready; thicker and denser than an oyster cracker.
I liked the first one better, but wonder if I did something wrong; krissywatts, is the dough really bouncy?
hmm...could the problem be the resting? I don't know a lot about the mechanics/physics of resting but I never let mine rest, I use it as soon as the dough is smooth. I pre-cut mine and they do 'bounce back' slightly but not a lot.
I like them thinner and crispier so I may try the all one sheet version next time. IF that works and you like it, why not just go with that?
I think you mixed the dough too much, and then also let it rest. Both are typical bread/pasta techniques, but I don't think should be used for crackers.
Essentially, you want something without developed gluten. So, you want the dough evenly mixed, but want to stop the moment it becomes mixed or you will continue agitating the bread proteins, which then when you let it rest bonded together into long elastic strands.
You also probably want to pay attention to what kind of flour you use--something with less protein to form gluten strands would be better than something with more protein.
Google found me this:
"The major proteins of bread, gliadin and glutenin, can be viewed as coiled or folded chains, with the structure stabilized by bonds between sulfur atoms (disulfide bonds) on adjacent areas of the molecules (intramolecular bonds). Mixing stretches the molecules and breaks the relatively weak bonds. During resting, the disulfide bonds can re-form either within (as before) or between molecules (intermolecular). When bonds form between molecules, the resulting structure (gluten) is much stronger than the individual proteins. (Used with permission from Breadmaking Technology, by Wulf Doerry, 1995, American Institute of Baking, Manhattan, KS.)
It is gluten that has the strength to physically entrap gas bubbles within the loaf, giving bread its desirable texture. Too little protein in the flour, or too little mixing, results in a weak and sticky dough that is easily stretched, but does not retain much gas. Likewise, dough can be overworked, resulting in few intramolecular bonds, and a dough that is strong, but inelastic. Mixing time and energy is thus both a critical and time-consuming part of the bread-making process. "
question for Linda and/or Krissywats. I read through the old posting and this and (tho i'm probably just not getting it) can't decide what kind of cracker these are. texture-wise, are we talking like lavosh? saltine? english water style? there's a particular brand, whose name i can't remember, naturally, that i just love. They come in an orange-ish box and are ~$4 and are thicker but totally crunchy and flavors like: asiago, pepper-parmesan...
thanks for clarifying!
It's not saltine - that seems to have a lot of 'air' in it. Not quit water cracker, either, although that is what these are called. The texture is very tight and smooth and crunchy. Slightly biscuit-ish? But not heavy in any way. Maybe like a lavosh? I dunno, Linda, what do you think? I've not really had anything like them from a store - but they are addictive little suckers.