Matt Crack[ers]

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These cheesy, 50% whole grain crackers are great for dipping. They have big crunch, a light cheesy flavor, and can take a variety of adaptations to fit your needs. And they’re easy to make too!  This batch yields one pan of about 50 crackers, cut into 1" squares.

Ingredient

Baker’s Percent

Weight (g)

Volume

WW flour 50% 96g .75C
AP flour 50% 96g .75C
Water 50% 96g 3.5oz
Shredded cheese 20% 38g ~1C
EVOO 5% 10g 2t
Kosher salt 2% 4g .5t
Instant yeast .5% 1g .25t
Toppings     1-3T of whatever!

 

Even though the basic instructions are “add to bowl and mix,” you’ll want to take note of a couple things. Because this is a pretty stiff dough (meaning it has a low water content), you want to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed before adding the water. It couldn’t hurt to add all the dry ingredients to the bowl (flour, salt, yeast) and mix for just 30 seconds to make sure you don’t end up with a salt ball in one cracker and another cracker that tastes completely bland.

As for the other ingredients’ prep, I recommend using the warmest water your sink can produce. This is because the cheese you’re adding will be cold from the refrigerator and we want to keep the dough warm so those yeast can get in a little activity before baking. The cheese can be prepared however you like – I went with a very fine shred so that each cracker is uniformly cheesy (and I used Monterrey Jack). The great thing about these crackers is they can accept a variety of extra ingredients without changing the base recipe too much. I used a half tablespoon of chopped rosemary, but may I recommend all sorts of herbs, black pepper, seeds (chopped if they’re big ones), and any other spice you can think of.

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Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add everything else and mix for just a minute or two to bring everything together. We’re not going for a super-glutenous bread here, so I just used the paddle attachment on my mixer.

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Even still, I had to finish mixing by hand, and you could probably do the whole batch this way if you don’t have a mixer.  This is because it’s difficult for the mixer to really “push” all that flour into so little water. Just knead until the dough ball is uniform. Unlike with bread, you don’t need this beautifully smooth surface. You’ll notice a lot of tearing on the skin – that’s okay.

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Cover and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes, but if you want some serious bready flavor, you could let it sit for an entire 24 hours if you wanted. But 30 minutes is enough to let everything relax for rolling out. Begin preheating your oven to 400* when you’re about 10 minutes away from beginning the rolling procedure.

This dough is so stiff that you probably won’t need to put any flour down to aid in rolling.

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Just muscle it out to the thinnest rectangle you think you can get it without tearing. If you feel the dough is springing back to shape with every roll, let it rest for a few minutes and come back to finish.

As for pan prep, I tried a silicone mat, and on a naked pan with cooking spray. Either works fine, but you’ll want to bake them just a couple minutes longer if you use a mat because it absorbs some of the heat. Place your entire rolled out rectangle on the pan, and then it’s time for topping.

At the very least, I recommend a little sea salt for topping, but you can put a variety of things on. Herbs, seeds, or even more cheese (use thick grated cheese so you can still see it on the baked product). Just sprinkle your toppings on, and then use the rolling pin to lightly roll them into the surface. (I used salt and parmesan).

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Then you should dock the crackers with a fork – just kinda stab it all over to provide little holes for steam to escape. The extra texture also makes it look nice.

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I like to score the crackers before baking instead of completely cutting through them. If they stay in a whole sheet, they’ll hold their shape better. But feel free to use fun cookie cutters too – you’ll want to let the rolled out sheet of dough rest a little while longer before cutting your shapes out so they don’t spring back as much. If you’re going to use cookie cutters, you could do the cutting before putting on the pan.

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I used a pizza cutter to score, guided by a ruler. If you’re going to use a pizza cutter, I recommend only rolling in one direction, and barely using any force. When you try to roll back and forth, it’s hard to keep it a straight line. Just roll multiple times until you alllllmost cut through the dough. I didn’t actually measure the distance between cuts but if you’re that much of a perfectionist, feel free. Just remember that when they’re in a big bowl, nobody will really be able to tell they’re not all the same shape. At the very least, try to have your crackers the same general size so they bake at about the same rate.

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Finally, we can put them in the oven, for about 23-28 minutes. (This is clearly a double batch, but the time would be the same for just one.)

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You’ll be tempted to take them out early as they begin to get little brown spots, but leave them longer. Note that a done cracker will NOT feel crispy coming out of the oven. They will crisp as they cool. To test doneness, give them a little push with your finger. A perfectly done cracker will feel a little dense have just the tiniest bit of give to it. Enjoy!

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Candace September 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Oh. My. These look fabulous! I’ve got to make these soon.

Thank you!
Candace

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2 Camille September 23, 2010 at 1:59 pm

These look sooo good!
However, I think I may need the recipe in real English. I don’t speak baker very well!

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3 Meg September 25, 2010 at 7:11 am

LOL, I thought that at first as well, but the volume measurements are on the right side of the ingredient table :)

Congrats on getting to the next level of the challenge! Your blog is lovely and I can’t wait to find out what that new recipe is!

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4 kraileen September 23, 2010 at 2:07 pm

help! what’s instant yeast? otherwise, the recipe doesn’t sound too bad and looks delicious!

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5 H-woman September 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Must make a batch of these!

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6 Katy September 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Just clipped into Evernote!

I wonder if we should have a cracker-off between these and EdibleAsh…hmmmm…

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7 Alicia @culinarybliss September 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I’m very happy to see Matt prefers a French rolling pin :)

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8 Matt September 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Yeah, no stupid handles for me!

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9 Ella @ The Princess and the P September 23, 2010 at 2:37 pm

God bless Matt.

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10 Lindsay September 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Can’t wait to try to make these! I say try since I have never baked anything but cookies…I’ve never even bought yeast!

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11 Lindsay September 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

ok – to redeem myself a bit – i have made banana bread, but that doesn’t take yeast so I feel like its not serious baking :)

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12 Alicia @culinarybliss September 23, 2010 at 2:54 pm

@kraileen you can look for bread machine yeast. it’s awesome because it doesn’t need to be proofed in warm water like traditional yeast! just add directly to the dry ingredients.

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13 Daniel September 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

As I’m down to three AkMak crackers and trying to conserve what little money I have, I’m very thankful that you’ve produced a cracker recipe that I can make this weekend! I highly doubt you’ve had this problem as they’re probably so good that they get eaten immediately (it never hurts to ask), but would you know how long these would keep fresh? I just don’t want to make a nice big batch of crackers and have half of them spoil on me before I can eat them.

Awesome looking (and simple!) recipe, thanks again. :)

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14 Kara September 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm

how much of an issue would it be if i didn’t add cheese? any substitution suggestions?

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15 Janna (Montana) September 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Oh My! These look so good that I am going home to make some immediately! Thanks Matt and Kath!

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16 Tammy September 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Thanks for the recipe – sounds fun – have you tried making them with 100% whole wheat flour – i wanted to try that but I thought you might have already and they weren’t as good?

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17 Melissa September 23, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Yummy, I.Must.Try.These! Thanks for the recipe!! :)

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18 Jennifer September 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm

THANK YOU!
My kids would love these. If you have any “Nola” bar recipes bring them on too! :)

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19 stacey-healthylife September 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Those look so good. Love the cheese and the saltiness.

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20 maria @ Chasing the Now September 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I can’t wait to try these out! :)

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21 Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies September 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm

must make. for sure.

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22 DOMA1 September 24, 2010 at 8:40 am

What’s EVOO

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23 DF September 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

Extra virgin olive oil

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24 DOMA1 September 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm

thanks..

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25 Samantha Robertson September 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

And what is AP Flour?

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26 DF September 24, 2010 at 11:57 am

All-purpose flour

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27 Kim September 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

Yes, what is AP flour….is it all purpose and I’m over thinking it???

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28 DF September 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

Can this recipe be made without yeast? I’m not against it, I just don’t have any on hand and like to use what I have, not just run out and buy items for just one or two recipes. I’ve made pizza dough, breadsticks, and biscuits without yeast and a few quick adjustments. Any ideas or substitutions for those who don’t have any yeast?

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29 Matt September 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I’m sure you’ll be fine without it… maybe add some baking powder. Maybe .25t in the whole batch? It’ll just add a little extra spring.

If you use chemical leaveners, don’t bother with the proofing time – just rest for 5-10 minutes before rolling out.

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30 Phoebe October 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I was SO excited to make these crackers for a party tomorrow…Everything seemed to be going according to plan, and then I smell burning in the oven. But how could this be? It had only been 20 minutes max. Well, they were all burned! I’m so disappointed. I guess lesson to everyone else who will try this recipe…don’t just set a timer.

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31 Matt October 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Hmmm, that’s too bad! I guess differences in oven temps and baking are bigger than I imagined!

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32 larissa h October 29, 2010 at 3:03 pm

matt thanks for this awesome recipe! i tried it today and it was great! Phoebe- when i baked mine they only took about 16 minutes tops and they are nice and crispy. I was using a convection bake setting on the oven, and it usually cooks everything i bake quicker.

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33 Megan October 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I am an absolute cracker fiend (and have successfully made recipes from Smitten Kitchen and the Kitchn), and I LOVE these. I got about 80 out of a single batch (with sharp aged cheddar and plain sea salt on the top), and I am going to have to use every ounce of restraint I have not to eat all of them in one sitting– thanks for the new recipe! They are absolutely lovely.

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34 Candy October 22, 2010 at 10:51 pm

These look so yummy and I would love to try them with a variety of nuts and seeds (toasted quinoa)! Any chance you could morph this into gluten-free? Matt, do you have any experience with GF baking? I don’t like it, but gotta have it and I’m not very good at it yet.

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35 Matt October 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

I don’t do a lot of specifically gluten-free baking, just because I love the relationship between yeast and gluten.

However, I did make this cracker recipe that’s from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads that’s kinda down your line:

http://www.katheats.com/?page_id=2577

I think you could directly replace the whole wheat flour with gluten free flours, so long as they had a bit of tackiness to them. You might have to play with the recipe a bit because I’ve gotten comments from people that they couldn’t get them beyond the chewy stage into the crispiness. But it’s definitely possible!

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36 Dynamics January 9, 2011 at 2:26 am

I finally made these tonight. They are fantastic! My pizza cutter disappeared so I used a pastry cutter and crimped the edges instead. I liked the way they looked, a bit fancier, although not necessary seeing as how they got gobbled up. Thank goodness I put some in a jar and hid them for tomorrow. Thanks Matt.

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37 kim p February 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

any idea of the calorie count of these lovely crackers! THanks

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38 KathEats February 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

Sorry I don’t have a count, but you could plug the ingredients into a calculator to figure it out.

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39 Danielle December 19, 2011 at 2:34 am

I have linked this recipe in today’s post…can’t wait to make them and try them!

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40 Amanda Cowan January 28, 2013 at 9:40 pm

How do you think these would do without any cheese added? I have a cheese cracker we love (my girls love cheez-its so I have a copycat that we love), but we’re looking for one similar to the kashi or wheat thins..

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