Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crack, baby, crackers

Heidi posted a cracker recipe last week and it sounded really interesting, and also sounded like an excuse for me to buy rye flour. I've made crackers before but they never really end up surpassing, say, Wheat Thins or Triscuits, and anyway, crackers aren't something I particularly covet--give me nice thin slices of a baguette to spread with a dip or build an appetizer on. Plus I try to keep my house full of things that I have to prepare before eating, since I tend to eat kind of compulsively if there are things to snack on anywhere in my apartment. This is why I can't buy chocolate bars, and why I store my nuts in the darkest corner of my pantry.

Currently I'm the caretaker of Jeff's pasta machine, so it was more out of a sense of curiosity than an appetite for crackers that I whipped up a batch of dough on Friday night, rolled it out to thickness 4 in the pasta maker, and baked off some crackers. They were pretty good following the steak dinner, spread with some bergamot marmalade and presented with some fresh strawberries for a light dessert. A little anise flavor in the background, crunchy, not too salty, not too sweet, earthy and healthy-tasting. A good cracker, not quite cracker nirvana, but good.

Heidi's recipe says "makes dozens of crackers, depending on how small or large you cut them." I guess the following description doesn't really fit with the atmosphere she's trying to set on her website, but it should say: "effing makes a bazillion crackers." I used, oh, maybe a tenth of the dough that I had made and got about three dozen--and, really, who's going to eat more than three dozen crackers in one sitting?

And so I got home from a run on Monday and decided that it was cracker laboratory night. I rolled out another blob of dough with a rolling pin, cut it into four sections, and rolled it out in the pasta maker at every thickness between 3 and 6. I had intended to take a picture of each batch, but when the first plate of crackers (the thinnest, rolled to thickness 6 on the pasta maker) came out of the oven I was so hungry that I just sprinkled some salt on them and ate them as fast as the burns in my mouth could heal. The thickness 5 crackers came out--same deal. Thickness 4, nom. Finally I took out the thickness 3 three crackers--the thickest ones, so maybe I should have been calling it "thinness 3" the whole time.

I really had been planning to save those to eat with some avocado the next day as part of my lunch, but I foolishly left them sitting out on the counter for ten minutes, and by the time I had finished doing the dishes, well--let's just say I was reminded of why I don't keep crackers around the house. All in all, though, it was a pretty satisfying dinner of six dozen oatmeal crackers and (make up something else to put here before you publish so people don't think you ate only six dozen crackers for dinner with nothing else).

And which one was the best? Well, I'd say it was a toss-up between the thinnest (6) and the thickest (3), shown above. The thinnest I'd definitely just snack on, or crumble into a creamy soup or something. The thickest had a more pronounced anise flavor, and would stand up great on a cheese plate or with some dip. The two crackers of intermediate thickness (4 and 5) were neither thick nor thin, and just didn't really make any sense. Apparently for a cracker to be good you want it to be either definitively thick or definitively thin. As God once said--because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Apparently I have less discerning taste than God because I ate the crackers anyway.

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