Sunday, March 9, 2014
By JANE TOUZALIN/The Washington Post
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Butter is the key ingredient in Everona Market Crackers, whose variations include corn spice and cocoa versions.
Deb Lindsey photos for The Washington Post
Crisp Rosemary Flatbread Crackers make a tasty hostess gift.
Lacking preservatives and factory-sealed plastic packaging, my crackers don't have the shelf life of most store-bought ones. I seal them in zip-top food storage bags and keep them at room temperature, and most are good for several days, if not longer. Or I separate them into smaller quantities and freeze them. (Labeling and dating them first, of course.)
Crackers that seem a little tired after defrosting or a little past their prime can often be revived by a brief stay in a 300-degree oven.
I mentioned earlier that you don't need special equipment to make crackers -- a rolling pin and a baking sheet will get you there -- but a pasta machine or pasta mixer attachment can help create crackers that are thinner than hand-rolled, which often translates as better. My old hand-crank machine sets up in a minute and is good for turning out long oval or smaller round crisps.
Bottom line: DIY crackers are worth the time and effort, though I'd probably feel differently if I'd decided to go with yeast. But I love their look and taste, and I can imagine proudly presenting them -- fetchingly packaged -- upon arrival at my next dinner party.
Now, will someone please invite me?
CRISP ROSEMARY FLATBREAD CRACKERS
Makes 24 2-by-9-inch oval crackers or 5-inch round crackers.
These crackers look impressive, they taste great and they couldn't be easier. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days. Adapted from a recipe in the July 2008 issue of Gourmet.
13/4 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
Place a heavy baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees.
Lightly flour a work surface.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, then add the water and oil, gradually stirring them into the flour until a soft, shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead gently 4 or 5 times to bring the dough together into a soft, smooth ball.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep the remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap. Divide the first piece into 4 equal pieces; roll each one out on a sheet of parchment paper into a long oval shape, roughly 2 inches wide and 9 inches long, or into a circle with a diameter of at least 5 inches. The dough should be very thin.
Use the tines of a fork to prick the cracker several times.
Alternatively, and for crisper results, use a pasta machine to roll out each piece of dough until very thin, usually the fifth setting on the machine. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper.
Right before baking, lightly brush the top of each cracker with oil. Scatter a little of the remaining chopped rosemary on top, then a little of the flaked salt, pressing slightly so the flakes adhere.
Slide the parchment onto the preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the crackers to a wire rack to cool.
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