There are few things one can accomplish in the kitchen that are as immensely satisfying as making your own crackers. Sure, there are more impressive things one can tackle—cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast by yourself, recreating an exact replica of Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s wedding cake—but on a pure and simple level of creating things in the kitchen, cracker making takes the crown.
I suspect that the satisfaction in making homemade crackers comes from the very fact that crackers—unlike a vast Thanksgiving feast or a wedding cake fit for a king—are a simple, humble food that 95% of the population has never even attempted to make at home. What most people do not know, however, is that making crackers is so simple, even preschoolers can make them. (No, seriously. Last year I taught a cracker making lesson at my son’s preschool and the kids, after two minutes of instruction, were total pros at making crackers.)
There are dozens of different types of crackers one can make at home (the ones I made with my son’s preschool were made of nothing more than flour, water, and seeds), and these lemon crackers are one of my favorites. A bit fancier tasting than your average cracker, they are nevertheless a great introduction to the world of cracker making, as they are a cinch to assemble and bake. They also have a bit more oomph to them than a standard cracker, and considering the fact that this cracker offers the convenience of already containing cheese within it, there is no real need to gild the lily by piling cheese on top of it.
In each bite, the wonderful savory saltiness of the Parmesan is cut by the zing of lemon and mint, and punched up at the end by a healthy dose of fresh black pepper. A few days ago, a pile of crackers sitting before me, I was inspired by the bursting red tomatoes in our garden and decided to whip up a simple tomato and mint topping to spoon over each cracker. This was a very good idea. I highly recommend you do it too.
Lemon, Parmesan, and Mint Crackers
Cracker base recipe heavily adapted from an older edition of Joy of Cooking
I topped these crackers with a simple mixture of chopped tomato, chopped fresh mint leaves, and a dash of salt and pepper. I’d recall the recipe for you, but there really isn’t one. I just took those ingredients, mixed them together, then sat back and thought about how much I love summer.
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons fresh mint leaves
¾ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons ice cold water
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
In the bowl or a food processor, combine lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, mint leaves, and flour. Pulse ingredients together until finely chopped, about 10 pulses.
Sprinkle butter pieces over the top of the flour mixture, and pulse together another 10 times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the food processor running, add water and lemon juice. Process just until mixture begins to clump together.
Turn dough out onto a large piece of wax paper. With your hands, use the wax paper to shape the dough into a four-sided log about 11 inches in length. Wrap the dough securely in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can also leave the dough in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 weeks, making these crackers an excellent party food that you can premix, then slice and bake as needed.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
When the dough has chilled, remove it from the wax paper and carefully cut it into ¼-inch slices. Arrange slices on prepared baking sheet, leaving roughly 1-inch of space in between crackers.
Bake on center rack of oven for 10-12 minutes, until crackers are just starting to turn golden at the edges. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 30 crackers.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|