Homemade Cheese Crackers
I have a serious weakness for Cheez-its. Even if I managed to cut all other processed foods out of my diet, I could never give up Cheez-its. I once ate an entire box by myself in one sitting. I probably shouldn’t admit that, huh? Anyway, when I saw a recipe for homemade cheese crackers on the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Banter blog I knew I had to make them. I immediately went online and bought their Vermont Cheese Powder and when I finally had some free time I headed straight to the kitchen to bake up some (perhaps a little bit healthier) cheese crackers.
These are surprisingly easy, and I was impressed by how much like Cheez-its they taste. The hardest part was definitely rolling the dough thin enough to produce a sufficiently crispy cracker. And I found it challenging to cut the dough into nice, perfect squares, so mine are kind of haphazardly shaped. I am just not the kind of perfectionist who can slowly cut perfect squares out of dough, and I’m ok with that.
Oddly enough, the recipe that came printed on the back of the cheese package was not the same recipe offered on the King Arthur Flour website. I’m not really sure what the reason for the discrepancy is, but I ended up using the recipe from the package, which seemed a little bit easier and required fewer ingredients. Of course, I did find out after I started assembling my ingredients that our baking powder had expired, and we were out of parchment paper, so I had to use aluminum foil. It seemed to work alright, but parchment paper might have been a tad easier to work with.
Homemade Cheese Crackers
- 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/3 c. Vermont Cheese Powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 T. unsalted butter, cold
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 3-5 T. water
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in the butter, using your hands or a pastry blender to break the butter into coarse crumbs with the dry ingredients, like you would if you were making pie crust or shortbread.
Combine the vinegar with three tablespoons of water, and add to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if necessary. Just keep stirring until the dough starts to come together. I had to get in there with my hands after awhile and start mixing because a lot of the flour didn’t seem to want to incorporate, and I didn’t want to add too much water. Once you have a nice, smooth ball of dough formed, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Then hope that you don’t have a mixing bowl disaster: My lovely new mixing bowl (as seen in the above photo), which I was using for the very first time, completely shattered when I filled it with hot water to wash it.
It was really startling, and I was really annoyed. I read the care instructions for these bowls (yes, I am the kind of dork who reads instructions for mixing bowls), and supposedly they can go from the refrigerator into the oven without incident. And yet the temperature difference between my kitchen and the hot water was so great that the glass shattered? I always wash mixing bowls by allowing them to fill with hot water and soak while I’m wiping up other messes, so I’m not sure what happened. I did email the company in the hopes of having the bowl replaced, so we will see. I’m just trying to be extra careful with the other bowls now.
After the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and divide into two equal halves. Roll the dough out as thin as possible onto a floured sheet of parchment paper (the parchment paper will really help). Cut the dough into 1-inch squares (a rolling pizza cutter comes in handy for this), and prick a hole in each square with a fork (this allows steam to escape so the crackers don’t puff up). Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet and bake in a 375F oven for about 10 to 14 minutes. They burn quickly, so keep an eye on them. I checked them, and rotated the pans, at the seven minute mark. The first batch took 14 minutes, but the second took barely 10.
I also managed to drop a few of the crackers off the baking sheet and into the heating element of my oven, which caused a nice, smoky mess and a very loud fire alarm alert in the back hallway. Good times, good times.
The thinner the crackers, the more crispy they are, and crispy is definitely better. But even the not-so-crispy crackers still taste excellent, and I am very happy to have a small container of these in the pantry right now. I feel much better about eating these than the store-bought variety.