Yes, I am fully aware that a big box of Saltines™ can be bought for only a couple of dollars. So why would I make my own, you ask? Well …why not? :)
I saw this recipe on the King Arthur flour site recently and since Ham and Bean soup is on the menu for tonight (recipe later), it seemed like a perfect time to try them out. I mixed the dough together quickly last night before going to bed and left it in the fridge over-night. This morning, it took only 10 – 15 minutes to roll and cut the dough, 10 minutes to bake and voila …. homemade soda crackers!
I was very pleased with the results. Lessons learned: I probably could have baked them a teeny bit longer (I was nervous of burning them!) and I probably could have used a more liberal sprinkling of salt. I will probably try to roll them just a wee bit thinner next time, too (they seemed thin but they do puff up quite a bit in the oven). Also, since they shrink as they bake (instead of expanding), I`m not sure there is really any need to transfer them individually from the rolling mat to the baking pan. Next time, I will probably try rolling and cutting them out on parchment and then just transferring the entire parchment sheet with the crackers to a baking sheet. But all in all, a wonderful cracker. These taste very much like you’d expect a soda cracker to taste … only better.
Sometimes, after I bake things “from scratch”, I end up wondering if the the time and effort was really worth it. That definitely wasn’t the case with these crackers. The process was easy and quick. The dough handled beautifully, so it was painless to roll and cut and the results were lovely. I will definitely be making these again!
Homemade Soda Crackers
Summary: These were really tasty crackers and a fun experience making them from scratch. Experiment with different toppings, for a variety of tastes.
- 1 1/2 cups Italian Pasta-Style Flour (Tipo “00”), cake and pastry flour or all-purpose flour, if that’s all your have. I used Monarch Cake and Pastry flour. If you use all-purpose, you may need to add more water and rolling the dough may be a little more challenging.)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Gourmet salt, herbs etc. (I used Herbs de Provence, pink Himalayan salt and a bit of kosher salt)
- Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and sugar. Set aside.
- Put the water, butter, and oil in a microwave-safe cup, or in a saucepan. Heat gently just to melt the butter. Remove from the heat, and cool to 120°F-130°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, this will feel hotter than lukewarm, but not at all uncomfortably hot; it’ll be cooler than your hottest tap water.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat at medium, then high speed for a total of about 90 seconds, to make a soft dough. (*I had to add more water in order to get the dough to come together. I probably added 2-3 Tbsp. more, 1 Tbsp. at a time). The dough should be soft, moist but not sticky and not crumbly or tough.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 18 hours. It won’t rise much; the bowl can be small. (Flavour increases with the length of the refrigerator rest).
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Lightly flour a work surface (a silicone rolling mat works well here), and remove the dough from its rising bowl. It won’t feel like normal yeast dough; it’ll be more clay-like. Shape the dough into a 3″ x 5″ rectangular block. Pre-shaping it like this will help you roll it out evenly. Roll it into a rough 13″ x 15″ rectangle. It will be quite thin. Be sure to keep the rolling surface well-floured, to avoid sticking.
- Starting with a shorter side, fold the dough in three like a business letter.
- Roll it out again, this time to an 11″ x 19″ rectangle, or thereabouts. The dough will shrink when you stop rolling it; your goal is to end up with a rectangle that’s about 10″ x 18″.
- Sprinkle the dough with your choice of salt (fairly liberally) and herbs, if using and gently press it in with the rolling pin.
- Using a rolling pizza wheel (easiest) or a baker’s bench knife, cut the dough into 2″ squares. Note: If you’re using a silicone mat, cut very carefully – you don’t want to damage the mat.
- Transfer the crackers to two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets; you can put them fairly close together, as they’ll shrink as they bake, rather than spread. Prick each cracker once or twice with the tines of a fork.
- Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes, till they’re a very light golden brown. Watch them carefully towards the end of the baking time; they can darken very quickly. (I got nervous of over-cooking them so turned off the oven a little early. They probably could have cooked another minute).
- Turn off the oven, and open the door completely. Leave the crackers on the oven rack; they’re going to cool down right in the cooling oven, in order to preserve their crispness. Keep your eye on them for the first couple of minutes; if for some reason your oven isn’t cooling off quickly, and the crackers are continuing to brown, pull the rack out partway.
- When the crackers are completely cool (takes about an hour to an hour and a half), remove them from the oven, and wrap airtight, to preserve their crispness.
Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 10 min | Total time: 45 min
Number of servings (yield): 45 crackers
Yield: about 45 crackers.