To set the record straight, I am not normally the kind of person who bakes her own crackers, when I can buy really outstanding ones at our neighborhood grocery store. But as I was looking for an appetizer to make for our dinner party this past Sunday, I came across this recipe, and knew it would be just the thing. I was planning to braise lamb for the main course, so the meal prep would be done in advance, leaving me with time to pop the crackers in the oven at the last minute.
I was impressed by how easy these were to put together. I made the dough in about 10 minutes, and it took about 15 minutes to roll them out. Our house had a 'come hither' scent that emanated all the way to the street by the time our friends got out of their car.
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
I made the dough in my food processor, but it could also be made by hand. The original recipe calls for Gruyere, Comete, or Emmenthal cheese, and lists cheddar as an acceptable substitute. I used cheddar, as I thought the four children who would be present would be more likely to enjoy them.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 pound Gruyere, Comte, Emmenthal, or cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
pinch of Aleppo pepper or cayenne
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Put the butter, cheese, salt, white pepper, and Aleppo pepper or cayenne in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds again - these will be larger. According to Dorie, there are times when you pulse and never get curds. If this happens, she says, just process for a minute such that everything is as moist as possible.
Place the dough onto a work surface and knead it gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour and up to three days.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to barely 1/4 inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter, cut the dough into crackers. Gather the scraps together, so you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk, chill, and roll them out to make more crackers. Place the cut out dough on the baking sheet, leaving an inch between each piece.
Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with the second disk, making sure the baking sheet is cool before reusing. Serve them while warm, or at room temperature.
These will keep for up to four days in an airtight container.
Yield: about 50 crackers