Saturday, February 13, 2010

Going Crackers

Crackers are not cheap. A box of Triscuits can run $2.50 or more. It's a simple business strategy: take a simple, cheap product (grain), process it and quadruple or more the price. Starbucks is an extreme example. For the same price as double mocca latte, you can buy a whole can of coffee that will produce several dozen cups.

Another downside: most processed food has too much sweetener and salt, not to mention all sorts of bizarre additives.

So why not try to make crackers? Saves money and it's better for you.

I reviewed several recipes and settled on the following: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. One cup flour, one teaspoon salt and two tablespoons canola oil. I mixed with about a quarter cup water, just enough to turn the dough into a ball. I then rolled out the dough on a lightly floured counter to about 1/4 inch.

My dough was not very symmetrical, but I can work on that. I transferred the dough sheet to a floured cookie sheet, sprinkled with sesame seeds, cut rectangles with a sharp knife so I could break the crackers into a pieces after baking and put in the oven. The main recipe I used advised 10 minutes, but that wasn't nearly enough. It took about 15 minutes and even that wasn't sufficient. Only about half the crackers were browned and I found that they tasted best. Unfortunately, the sesame seeds failed to gain purchase: They rained off the crackers as I took them from sheet. I should have pressed them into the dough.

Also, the crackers puffed up a bit. I now understand why crackers have pinpricks.

The taste was good. As with other unprocessed foods like lemonade, I found the flavor less intense, but more complex and satisfying. A lot of that comes, I think, from using less sugar and salt, which tend to mask and overwhelm other flavors.

Quick and easy. Costs pennies, if even that. I will experiment further.

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