Sunday, February 22, 2009

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Crackers

Very stoked about Heath Ledger's Oscar win. Not so stoked about Mark Bittman's crackers. They were like a stale tortilla torn into random pieces, chewy and raggedy and kind of lame. Occasionally Mark Bittman is a bit too casual, but we can cut him some slack. After all, he's trying to tell us how to cook everything. I just don't feel this basic cracker recipe was his highest priority.

Problems: First, he says to roll the dough (flour, butter, water, salt) to 1/4 inch thick. But crackers need to be incredibly thin -- you know, wafer thin -- and anything close to 1/4 inch is too chunky. I rolled my crackers much, much thinner. Then he calls for baking at 400 for 10 minutes which barely warms even skinny crackers. 

It's kind of exciting to try to recreate a ubiquitous, taken-for-granted foodstuff you've always purchased in a box. I decided to compare the King Arthur Baker's Companion recipe, as one would think crackers would be a priority in a flour company company cookbook.

And so they were, though King Arthur mysteriously omits salt. I corrected this oversight. They properly advise rolling the dough to 1/16 of an inch, cutting in shapes, and baking for 25 minutes at 350. See tidy, superior crackers at left.

We had a lot of crackers.

Here's the crazy thing. I can't sell cookies or cake around here to save my life, but my children devoured the crackers, both kinds of crackers. It's hokey to gush about how much your kids loved a dish, but: oh well. Isabel ate maybe a dozen crackers. Owen had friends over and they ate crackers like popcorn while screening the 12 Farts of Christmas on YouTube.

Good times. 


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