Homemade cheddar cheese crackers. TNS
What makes people happier than crackers? What brings more joy? Especially when they are accompanied by a nice piece of cheese?
CRISPY SESAME CRACKERS
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cold water, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 tablespoon butter, cut up
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, preferably a mix of black and white
1. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water together in the bowl of an electric mixer or a large bowl. Let rest 8 to 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy. Add 1/3 cup of the cold water, then add the flour, butter and salt. Mix to combine with the dough hook or a wooden spoon.
2. If using a mixer, mix the dough on medium speed until smooth and elastic, pulling the dough down off the hook if it climbs it. If mixing by hand, turn the shaggy dough out onto cutting board and knead for 5 to 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour. Gather into a ball, place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat lightly, cover, and set it aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. The goal is to make the crackers paper-thin. The easiest way to do this is to use a pasta machine. If you don’t have one, take manageable-sized pieces of dough and, on a lightly floured surface, roll them out as thinly as possible into strips that are 3 to 4 inches wide and 6 inches long. It helps to roll out the pieces of dough, let them rest for 5 or 6 minutes, and then roll them out again, repeating if necessary.
5. Lay the strips of dough on a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat together the egg with the remaining 1 teaspoon cold water, and brush the crackers with this egg wash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then score the strips of dough to make triangular shapes; they will break apart into individual crackers when they bake.
6. Turning the crackers as necessary, bake for 7 to 10 minutes until they are a deep gold. Remove to a rack to cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 week — or less, if humidity is high.
CHEDDAR CHEESE CRACKERS
1 1/2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons tepid water
1/2 teaspoon malt syrup
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
1. Grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, add the cheese, 1 cup of the flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and cayenne pepper. Stir to mix well. In a separate bowl, dissolve the malt syrup in the water and add the shortening. Form a well in the centre of the flour; pour in the liquid with the shortening. Blend with a wooden spoon; the mixture will be quite heavy.
2. On a work surface, knead by hand until smooth, about 4 minutes, adding sprinkles of flour if the dough is wet. Place dough in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to relax for at least 1 hour or — tightly wrapped — up to 2 days.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough in half, keeping one half covered. With your hands and a heavy rolling pin, press and roll the dough into a rectangle no longer than the length of the baking pan. The dough should be no thicker than 1/16th of an inch. Fold the dough from the ends to make 3 layers. Turn the dough and roll it again into a 1/16th-inch rectangle.
4. Lift the dough from the work surface and lay on the prepared baking sheet. Prick (dock) the entire surface with the tines of a fork. With a rolling pizza cutter, cookie cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into crackers of the desired size. The crackers will be broken apart after baking.
5. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the centre of the oven until browned and crisp, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. Check the crackers frequently so they are not baked beyond where you want them.
6. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Cool on wire racks. Repeat with the remaining dough. These crackers will stay fresh in an airtight container for 3 to 4 weeks.
Tribune News Service
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