Faithful readers, you may not know it yet, but this is the start of chip-and-dip season. So, for the next half-a-dozen or so posts, we’ll be putting up recipes for either a chip, cracker, or dip, for you to peruse and even make up yourself, if you’re so inclined. We’ll start off the season with these little Swedish Caraway Rye Crisps, which sound like the perfect accompaniment for a bit of cheese.
The reason we have so many cracker and dip recipes in a row is three-fold: one, we checked out a copy of Ivy Manning’s Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks, from whence we got this and the other recipes; two, we made up a good variety for church coffee hour and social; and, three, we happen to like snacky foods and are always on the lookout for good recipes.
So let’s get scratchin’ & snackin’.
Makes 60 crackers
As with all baking, do not substitute salted butter for unsalted; that added salt just makes your food taste like a salt lick. We always have all-purpose flour on hand, but we don’t have dark rye too often, so we stopped down at the local food co-op and were able to pick up just the right amount from the bulk bin. That’s a great way to buy ingredients that you don’t normally have on hand for things you just want to try. You’ll note that, at the end, we have kosher salt for sprinkling. Kosher salt has larger flakes which are better for topping crackers, but we’re sure other salt will work in a pinch. Finally, we know it’s only an egg wash, and you won’t use anywhere near all of it, but get that egg from a happy hen (or consider using milk for the wash — it should work, too).
Procedure in detail:
We actually made a double batch of these crackers by accident, which will be reflected in the photos. We know, how do you accidentally make a double batch? Well, what you do is, you think about making a double batch, then decide against it, then when you’re adding milk, you imagine that you need to double that. And next thing you know, you’re scrambling to double up on the dry ingredients because your dough is super sticky.
Mix milk and molasses. In a measuring cup with a spout, thoroughly mix the milk and molasses until it looks like coffee with cream.
Pulse dry ingredients. In a food processor, pulse together the flours, baking powder, salt, and ground caraway seeds, until well combined. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. About 5 pulses should do it.
Add butter. Drop the chunks of butter over the flours and pulse about 10 times to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. On our food processor, the flour sometimes shoots out between the bowl and the lid — it’s not a perfect fit — so we just place the processor in the (dry) kitchen sink for easy cleanup. Consider doing that if you have a similar problem.
Add milk. Slowly pour the milk and molasses mixture into the dry ingredients, pulsing the processor to combine.
Knead. Scrape the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface and give it a few good kneads to make sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The dough might be a little sticky, so flour your hands if needed, but try not to add too much additional flour.
Wrap and chill. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or up to a day. Since we were making a variety of crackers, it was especially convenient to make up the doughs one day and bake the next.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Make egg wash. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and tablespoon of cold water.
Roll out dough. We used a pasta roller, which made this easier, but a rolling pin will also work. However you do it, roll the dough out until it’s 1/16-inch thick. Yes, that’s pretty thin, but you are making crackers.
Cut. Using a sharp knife, a pizza cutter, or another cutting implement, cut crackers that are 2 inches on a side. Yes, we used a tape measure, because we wanted these to look nice, and it’s really not too much more trouble. Plus, with this dough, you can re-roll the scraps.
Top. Transfer the crackers to the prepared baking sheets. You can place these very close together as they shrink a bit while they bake. In fact, we transferred strips of dough, then cut the crackers right on the sheets, leaving them touching. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt and caraway seeds. Press the salt and seeds down lightly with a flat-bottomed cup or glass. Then, pierce the crackers in a few places with the tines of a fork.
Bake. Slide the sheets into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the crackers have browned nicely and are no longer flexible.
Cool. Place on a rack to cool, then transfer to an airtight container.
We had high hopes for these crackers. We thought they’d be a bit like those small dark rye breads, full of rye flavor, only crispy. Instead, these were quite bland, especially before we started adding the kosher salt topping — it wasn’t in the original recipe — although they did taste a bit better the next day. It seemed as though some of the flavors, perhaps the caraway, melded through the crackers making them a bit more palatable. But, even then, these are just not that great a cracker; we think we can do better in crackerdom, so three stars.