Five Secrets To Making The Crispiest Crackers

A plate of seeded crackers
  1. Use some oil in the mixture
  2. Baking powder helps with lightness
  3. Roll the mixture out very thinly
  4. Use the 'five-a-side' rule of baking
  5. Allow to dry in the oven

Baking your own savoury crackers can be a really easy, economical way to make tasty snacks for the family. They can be as healthy as you like, too, since you control the level of salt and decide how much wholemeal flour to use.

I've been experimenting a lot, lately, because I want to make crackers - quickly - using discarded sourdough starter, from Bernard. The results have been mixed. Usually very tasty, occasionally burnt at the edges and often, sadly, really really hard.

Crackers are not so-called due to their effect on teeth, are they?!

I've been trying to achieve crackers that crack: crispy, crunchy, light and brittle.

Here's what I know.

You need some oil in the recipe


Oil is a shortening agent. It curtails the development of gluten in the dough, shortening the strands and resulting in a dough that is more crumbly than stretchy (think scones or pastry versus bread). If you're designing a cracker recipe, use a good slosh of oil to help the crackers stay on the crumbly side of solid.

Close up of cracker toppings, seeds and paprika
Suggested cracker toppings: seeds, herbs and smoked paprika

Baking powder helps with lightness


You might be making crackers to use up some discarded sourdough, or perhaps some bread dough that went wrong, somehow, and didn't rise. You could also be making dough with the express purpose of making crackers. Either way, I have found that a raising agent is needed. Baking powder has made the difference between concrete and perfectly edible.

Crackers in baskets and bowls

Roll the mixture out really thinly


Crackers turn out best if they are rolled really thinly. Just roll them as thinly as you possibly can. A cracker more than a few millimetres thick, in my experience, just isn't a cracker. It's more of a building material.

My top tip, for what it's worth, is to put a piece of dough no bigger than a grapefruit onto a non-stick reusable baking liner* and roll out the dough in situ. Flour, oil or water on the rolling pin will help it not to stick to the dough.
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Rainbow cracker cut into squares

The five-a-side rule of baking


The best crackers, I have found, are baked at a fairly high temperature for a short length of time. For best results, aim for a temperature of around 210oC and cook the crackers for five minutes on each side.

Because I make my crackers in one huge piece, they are easy to flip over at half time. It's more fiddly if you've made individual crackers, but 'you do you', as they say. So, it's five minutes on each side but that's not all...

Rainbow crackers in a basket

Leave them to dry


After the five-a-side baking is done, turn the oven off and leave the crackers in the oven for another hour or so. That, my friends, is how crackers end up dry, crispy and not burnt.

Your crispy crackers will keep quite nicely - in an airtight container or not, it doesn't matter - for several days. I can't comment on longer than that because we are a family of five and crackers simply do not hang around.

Assorted crackers in a bowl

Basic recipe - open to creativity


Try my Savoury Crackers Four Ways recipe or create your own version something like this:

With flour

400g flour (any sort!)
A slosh of oil (maybe 1-2 tbsp)
A slosh of honey (optional but it adds a nice flavour)
1 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp baking powder
260g water (or enough to make a workable dough - depending on how much oil and honey you used)

With sourdough discard or starter

200g sourdough starter/discard (assuming around 70% hydration)
280g flour
A slosh of oil (as above)
A slosh of honey (as above)
1 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp baking powder
Approx. 180g water (to make a workable dough - this depends how wet your starter was, as well as the amount of oil and honey you sloshed in)

You can include seasoning in the mixture or add it to the top of the cracker after you roll it out. Small things can easily go into the dough whilst larger seeds are best added afterwards.

Small things to add to the dough (note, these are ideas. I'm not intending that you add them all at once):

Smoked paprika
Dried herbs
Sesame seeds
Curry powder
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Larger things to sprinkle on top of the crackers once rolled (use the rolling pin to press the seeds into the dough so that they stick better):

Pumpkin seeds
Fennel seeds
Sunflower seeds

Obviously, your imagination and store cupboard are the only limits. Go wild!

What are your favourite cracker combinations? Did they turn out crispy?

4 comments:

  1. Great idea and really good tips, will definitely give this a try, thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. Thank you for commenting :o)

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  2. My wife and I have taken to having crackers and cheeses on a Thursday night. I make our own salted butter, and use the discard for Saturday night sourdough pizzas. /What to do with the remaining discard? Well, now I know. Crackers!

    They taste wonderful. The only variation to your recipe I made, is to add a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika with black onion seeds. I cut the recipe down to one third of your stated recipe. Absolutely the best crackers we have eaten in yonks.

    Thank you for this recipe...

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    Replies
    1. Woo! Result! That is great news. It sounds brilliant. I love smoked paprika :o)
      Thanks for your comment!

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