We often like to have a little snack on hand, just something to munch when we’re feeling a bit peckish, so, when we’re looking through cookbooks, we often mark some of those snacks as something we’d like to try. We figure that, unless it’s really complex, or uses a lot of expensive ingredients, we might as well try it out and see if it should go into our rotation. Today’s recipe is based on one in Ottolenghi, by Yotum Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
We did change the recipe to use a sharp Cheddar cheese, and we made the crackers square instead of round, but, other than that, it’s the same recipe. So, let’s get scratchin’ so we can get snackin’.
Only the people who eat your food should be allowed to help season it, so, unless you’re bringing over people from the dairy, that means unsalted butter. For cheese, the original recipe called for Parmesan, but we think any strong-flavored cheese will work. Finally, if you use a lot of poppy seeds for baking, you might want to check out Penzey’s spices. Their prices for poppy seeds (and other spices) beat the supermarket prices by a mile.
Procedure in detail:
Mix dry ingredients. We didn’t sift the ingredients together; instead, we just measured them into a bowl and whisked. This makes such a stiff dough that we don’t think it’ll make any difference if you sift or not.
Mix butter and cheese. Since the butter is soft, we just mashed it and the cheese together for a minute or two. If you want, you could do this in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but then you’d have to wash it. We went with the easier cleanup.
Mix in dry ingredients. Once the butter and cheese are mixed together, stir in the flour mixture. It might be a bit difficult, but, if your butter was soft enough, it should go together easily.
Shape. We like to form our crackers into something of a square shape, but you can shape them into a round log or even a triangle, we suppose. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a log about 8-10 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches across.
Chill. Wrap the log in plastic and place in the refrigerator for about a half an hour so it firms up and is easier to handle.
Brush and seed. Unwrap the log — well, that’s pretty obvious — and brush with the beaten egg. Follow immediately with a thick coating of poppy seeds, pressing them in so they’ll stick nicely.
Chill. Re-wrap in plastic and it’s back into the refrigerator for the dough. Leave it at least overnight, but not much longer than two nights.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats — preferred because they’ll help keep the bottoms of the crackers from burning — or baking parchment.
Slice and bake. Slice the log (unwrapped, of course) into crackers about 1/4 inch thick and place on the prepared baking pans about an inch apart, as these crackers will spread. Place in the oven and bake about 25 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, or until golden-brown and slightly firm to the touch.
Cool. Let cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring to an airtight container.
These crackers were just okay. Although they are very similar to the other cheese crackers we’ve posted about in the past, these seemed softer and slightly greasier, which we attribute to using softened rather than cold butter. It’s somewhat surprising that this change is noticeable in the end product, but it is. The texture and taste were similar enough that we probably wouldn’t make these again, but, instead, would rely on our other cheese cracker recipes. Overall, three stars.