Daring Bakers July 2012 Challenge / Crackers

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love. We were actually challenged to make two using different techniques. I chose the hand rolled technique and the ice box technique. I really enjoyed this challenge but was surprised to find a less then abundant array of cracker recipes out there. My personal cookbook library (which is quite extensive) held less then a handful. Thankfully after this challange there will be a better selection with all of us daring bakers posting about them!

For my first recipe I chose to adapt a chili polenta cracker I eyed over at Easily Good Eats. I loved that it had spinach incorporated! Since I had masa harina (this is when field corn is soaked to remove the kernel and the resulting paste is ground into flour), I subbed it in for polenta (a form of ground corn meal). I found this amazing garlic and bell pepper seasoning by McCormick Spices and decided to include it in my cracker. FYI….the smell that permeates the kitchen when you bake these will make it hard for you to resist letting them cool…..now I’m dreaming up all kinds a dips so I can make these again!

Roasted Garlic Spinach Crackers
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup masa harina
1/2 durum semolina pasta flour
1 1/2 tablespoons McCormick Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper
½ cup finely chopped spinach, drained
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
About ½ cup water (I used slightly less)
Salt to taste (I sprinkled course sea salt after rolling mine out)

-Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
-Mix flour, masa harina, baking powder, and seasoning with fork until evenly combined.
-Continue by mixing in spinach until thourghly distributed.
-Make a small well in the middle, add oil and enough water to form the dough. Add the water in small increments so you can control the wetness of your dough. The dough should not be too sticky or dry, it should be wet enough to hold together without crumbling and dry enough to be rolled out pretty easily.
-Rolling out the crackers is easiest if roll directly on the tray you are using. I flipped a jelly roll pan upside down and rolled them out there….they are most easily cut with a pizza cutter. Make sure you cut them into desired shape BEFORE you bake them 🙂
-We like our crackers thicker so our crackers took about 25 minutes to bake. If you roll them really thin they will probably brown in about 12-15 min.

Adapted from Chili Spinach Polenta Crackers at Easily Good Eats

My second attempt at crackers didn’t turn out as well…..sure they look pretty….but if you pick them up they just crumble. I tried to adapt this challenge recipe:
Cheddar Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers. I subbed in parmigiano reggiano for the cheddar, cumin for the rosemary, and pine nuts for the walnuts. My batter was so dry I had to add a lot of oil and water to get it to come together. Maybe this is because the Parmigiano Reggiano had so much less moisture then then the cheddar? I’m not quite sure, but I am so disappointed in the results, although the taste was great if you could get it to your mouth without it falling apart. I even tried to double bake them switching them to an insulated cookie sheet after their first bake. I upped the oven to 400 and hoped the higher temp combined with extra bake time would somehow miraculously turn them into stiff crackers. Not so much, all I got was darker crumbs. I consider this part of the challenge failed so stay tuned, there will be another icebox cracker recipe up shortly.

Dream. Bake. Believe.
love, Steffie


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. What's for dessert?
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 02:10:17

    I like your recipes, and spinach crackers are awesome


  2. Audax Artifex
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 04:39:31

    So glad to hear that the second attempt has made you try another version for later. Your photos have a lot of glamour and look very professional. Yes I agree with you not many cracker recipes on the net, after this challenge there will be a lot more out there. The Roasted Garlic Spinach Crackers do sound delicious. An excellent posting. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.


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