Monday, September 04, 2006

Yo Cracker!

On my continued quest to find more things to bake and learn different techniques I decided to try a recipe from Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking" (see the link on the right) very descriptively titled "Whole Wheat Crackers". Why make crackers you say? I can buy a big box of crackers for like 1.50! I guess I have two reasons for this: 1) because I want to know how they are made 2) because I can So here's the ingredient list:

Dry stuff:
5 oz whole wheat flour (approx 1 cup)

4 3/4 oz all purpose flour

1 3/4 oz sugar

2 oz unsalted butter (I used salted and I don't think it made any difference)

4 oz milk (approx 1 cup)
1 large egg

Why are all the ingredients in weights? Well because you should be using a kitchen scale when baking. For the why (other than accuracy - the key to success in baking) please check out this link. For weight conversions simply check out this link or go to google and type in the conversion. Example: 6 oz to cups will give you the result quickly and accurately. I have detailed steps of the mixing process - another key to success.

The method for combining your wet and dry ingredients in this case is the Biscuit Method. A short summary of the biscuit method is:

1. while you are getting out your ingredients and hardware weight the butter and put it in the freezer

2. combine your dry ingredients and pulse in the food processor 3 to 4 times

3. rub your fats into your dry ingredients. How is this done? Well first shread your butter into the dry ingredients using a box grater with the big holes. Then use your hands to combine everything (just a quick mix). Then with your fingertips 'rub' the butter into the flour - not
all the butter. Just about half - see the picture.

4. Make a well in the dry mixture and stir the wet ingredients in until they are well combined.

5. coat a surface with flour and roll out the dough. I found this worked much better when I put wax paper on top. You want the dough 1/16" of an inch. I'm not sure I got it that thin so next time I'm going to use the pasta machine. The crackers still turned out great though.

6. Should have put this step earlier - but preheat your oven to 325 degress.
7. Cut the crackers - I used a pizza cutter.

8. Put them into the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. When some crackers turn dark brown take them out. 9. cool them for a few minutes, bag them and they'll stay good for 1 month. So in the end was it worth it? Definately yes! The first time the effort seems a bit much but once you get the technique down you can really crank them out and they are delicious - better than wheat thins!


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