Whatever there is a party or an occasion in which snacks are laid out on a table, you can bet there will be crackers. What you can also bet the only thing host did to prepare the crackers for their guests was to take them out of the box and onto the plate. Many Americans walk down the snack aisle, choosing that pretty box off the shelf without a thought of making them themselves. It’s a shame because homemade crackers are superior to anything that you will find in cardboard. They aren’t as hard to make as they sound. My goal is to take you from cracker buyer to cracker maker.
The hardest part of cracker making is getting your dough thin enough. Most recipes call for a thickness of ⅛ to 1/16 of an inch. So you will need a rolling pin. I recommend a french rolling pin as this give you greater control than ones that have handles built in. If you have one, you could also use a pasta maker. For starters, I think the french rolling pin would do just fine.
Next, you will need a pizza cutter to cut your dough into bite sized crackers. I recommend the pizza cutter made by Zyliss as it gives you the best control (getting the idea that control is important). The pizza cutters that has long handle don't work as well as you are putting the most force at the top of the handle, not right above the blade like you do with the Zyliss model.
Next your going to need something to bake your crackers on. Any sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a slipat will do. I recommend using a slipat because in the long run you will save money on having to buy more and more parchment paper. The crackers can be easily removed from the slipat and the slipat can be used again immediately for the next batch.
The last thing you will need is a rack to cool your crackers on. The best option is a cooling rack with a grid design. Without the grid, your cracker may just fall through the cooling rack (problem I had until I got a grid style rack).
Now that you have the tools you need, you need some good recipes. I created one for honey cornbread crackers. For more recipes, check out The King Arthur Flour company's website and search for "crackers". Or you could check out their recipes in their "All-Purpose Baking Cookbook".
A couple last tips for cracker making:
1. When a recipe calls for baking powder, use aluminum-free baking powder. The aluminum that is in most baking powders will throw off the taste of your crackers.
2. Watch your crackers careful. Don't just trust what the recipe says about how long they need to cook. Crackers go from being done to overdone very quickly.
3. Make sure you store your crackers in a zip top bag or a well sealed container. Without the preservatives that are in store bought crackers, this crackers won't last as long, so they need to be sealed well.
I challenge you to impress your friends and family at the next get together with your own homemade crackers. They will thank you!