Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Making Homemade Crackers The 'Easiest Thing In The World'

I love homemade food stuffs — things I might otherwise have to buy at a restaurant or a grocery store. But it’s never occurred to me to make my own crackers. Until now. 

The way my co-conspirator Nancy Leson tells it, "it's the easiest thing in the world.”

“For people like us who like to make homemade bread, pie crust, crackers are really, really easy,” she says.

Nancy asked Seattle chef Bruce Naftaly of the late Le Gourmand to share his recipe for his famous handmade crackers, which he makes with homegrown poppy seeds.  

All you need is to whisk together a few simple dry ingredients (flour, sea salt, baking powder, those poppy seeds), work in some cold butter with your hands, then add ice water. Work it all into a dough and roll it out, like this:         

Then you can make them into any shape you want, maybe rounds using the top of a juice glass, or long strips using just your knife. Naftaly uses a fancy Japanese stamp to press a chrysanthemum design on his crackers. 

Then you can top the crackers with whatever you want: cracked pepper, coarse salt or maybe some fresh thyme or rosemary with a brush of olive oil. 

One tip you mustn’t forget, says Nancy: You need to prick the crackers with a fork before you pop’em in the oven. Otherwise, they'll expand and turn out too flaky.

You can also freeze the dough for a rainy day. You just have to let it thaw to room temperature before you bake.

Fun With Crackers

Bet some sucker that he or she can’t eat six saltines in 1 minute without the aid of a drink. Trust me, it can't be done. I pulled this one on Kevin (remember him?) Kniestedt on the air once. I can’t remember what I won. His car, maybe.

“Crackers are short on sparkle.”

Margaret Mitchell, "Gone With the Wind"