If you know how to roll out a pie crust, you can learn how to make crackers. Even those people who pride themselves on their baking skills leave the work of making crackers to commercial companies. The cookie aisle in your favorite supermarket is usually filled with countless types of crackers, but serve someone a homemade cracker and you are likely to impress the person.
Many cracker recipes contain no eggs, which makes them a safe choice as a baking project for children. Some kids enjoy licking the bowl or swiping dough from a cookie sheet. The risk of salmonella infection from eating raw eggs makes that kind of sampling unsafe.
Here are a few tips for easier crackers making:
• The dough should be rolled out thin, usually about 1/8-inch thick. Dividing the dough in half or even quarters and rolling out one piece at a time is easier than tackling the whole ball of dough at once.
• There is no baking rule that says crackers must be round or square. Cut them any way you want, with a knife, biscuit cutters or cookie cutters.
• The crackers should be pricked with a fork before baking; this helps to keep them flat on the cookie sheet.
• Keep a close watch on the crackers while they are in the oven. The bottoms should be golden brown and the edges just beginning to brown. If you notice a few crackers that have reached that stage, remove them from the cookie sheet and bake the rest a bit longer.
How to make classic soda crackers
Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour to the mixture and beat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 24 hours in a warm spot.
Add the shortening, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. Mix the dough well, turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for 1 minute. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Resume kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 3 to 4 hours.
Place the dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a thin rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. The elasticity in the dough will work against you, but roll the dough out, using your weight firmly, pushing on the rolling pin; also use your hands to stretch it out.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Use ungreased cookie sheets. Dust the dough lightly with flour and then fold into thirds like a business letter. Turn the dough so a narrow end faces you and roll again, lightly dust with flour, fold again into thirds. Do this three times in all.
Divide the dough in half. Roll one half into a rectangle 1/8-inch thick or as thin as you can manage. Trim the edges so you have a neat rectangle. Lightly sprinkle salt evenly over the dough. Cut the dough into squares 1 1/2 by 2 inches. Prick each square with the tines of a fork several times.
Place the crackers on a cookie sheet, close but not touching. Bake for 7 minutes, turn over and bake for another 3 or 4 minutes. Cool your homemade crackers on wire racks.