So maybe you’re wondering why someone would make their own crackers when you can obviously buy them at practically anywhere that sells things resembling food (grocery stores, gas stations, vending machines!)? Well, obviously fresh things usually taste better. Crackers are just one of those things. Like canned soup vs. homemade. Once you make your own, you start to wonder how those stale little boxes ever made it into your pantry. Plus, it’s ridiculously simple to make your own and then you also know exactly what went into them.
But for me, the first time I made them, it was really more about the challenge. I like making things myself that we normally think of as store-only items. Flour, butter, cheese… call it a sense of pride, maybe. A tiny kinsman to the feeling people must have when they build a house with their own two hands, it feels lovely to say with a booming voice “I made this which others purchase!”. It’s not much, but it makes me smile to see the results.
If you need more convincing, let’s just say they’re pretty darn impressive things to bring out when you have dinner parties. Set out your tray and just wait for everyone to start nibbling and before long they’ll be asking where you got those fabulous crackers. Then, only then, should you say “Oh these? Haha! I just whipped them up myself.” Then smile beatifically, taking note of the impressed looks on everyone’s faces as you ask if anyone needs a refill on their cocktail, and then glide out of the room with some serious pride in your hosting savvy.
As for healthy snacking, having your very own homemade-crackers can incite some serious self-respect for toppings. Not just anything is good enough for your babies. Top with this bean spread. Or, try some almond butter with crisp apple and a drizzle of good honey, fresh avocado salsa with roasted peppers and corn or a simple slice of Swiss with sautéed criminis and a dash of smoked paprika… now that’s a snack time to take pride in.
Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, NYT
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: About 3 dozen crackers
Whole-grain, all natural, vegetarian, vegan, easy, minimal mess
Special equipment: stand mixer or food processor (optional)
1 1/4 cups / 170 g whole-wheat flour, plus a little more for dusting
1/2 cup / 50 g toasted sesame seeds (I like to use ¼ cup each white & black sesame seeds), plus 1 teaspoon or so for finishing
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil*
4 – 5 tablespoons water, as needed
Position oven racks in the middle and upper third and preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat
Mix together the flour, sesame seeds and salt in a mixing bowl, in the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), or in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. If using a mixing bowl, add the oil and cut in with a fork. If using a stand mixer, mix at low speed. In a food processor, pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing on low as you add each… depending on your flour and the climate of your kitchen, you may not need the last tablespoon of water. The dough is ready when you can gather the it into a ball with your hands (it will still be a little crumbly).
Lightly dust your work surface and roll out the dough, or roll out between pieces of parchment, plastic or wax paper. The dough will not rise, so roll to the thinness you wish your finished cracker to be.
Dust your knife or cutter with a little flour and cut into squares, strips, or whatever cutter shapes you desire. Carefully place on the baking sheet, close together but not touching. Sprinkle with reserved 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (and a little coarse sea salt, if you wish), and press lightly into crackers.
Bake 17 to 20 minutes until lightly browned (baking time will vary based on thinness and shape. Halfway thru baking, exchange sheets (lower to upper and vice versa) and rotate fronts to back. When lightly browned, remove from the oven, and allow to cool on racks.
* 3 tablespoons sesame oil – Can be substituted for 3 more tablespoons olive oil. Flavor & color of finished crackers will be little lighter.