Makes about 100 small crackers
Serve with cheese as snacks, as appetizers or with an after-dinner cheese plate. They’re also good with a variety of other toppings, or even unadorned. Variations are listed below. The cocoa crackers have the barest hint of chocolate flavor and are particularly suited for blue cheeses. The recipe can be doubled.
2 cups flour, plus more as needed
¾ teaspoon sugar
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¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
½ cup hot tap water, or as needed
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse several times to combine. With the machine running, add enough hot water to form a smooth, soft ball, stopping to check the texture before you add all of the water; you might not need all of it. (Alternatively, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the butter, then stir in the hot water.)
4. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly. Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
5. Use the floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on the work surface (re-flour as needed). Ideally, the dough should be translucent enough so that you can see the work surface underneath it. You can pick up the dough and rotate it as needed in between rollings, but don’t turn it over.
6. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Fold the dough carefully into two or three pieces, transfer it to a baking sheet and unfold it to cover the sheet. Use a pastry cutting wheel or sharp knife to quickly slice the dough into approximately 1½-inch squares, cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. You can remove any trimmed-off pieces at the edges and reroll them later, though they will be a little tougher in texture.
7. Bake for six to 10 minutes or until the crackers turn golden and are light brown around the edges. (You might need to bake the crackers on the inside of the sheet a little longer, because they will not brown as readily.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all of the dough.
8. Cool completely before serving or storing.
Oat/Wheat Crackers: Follow the basic recipe, using 1½ cups of flour and adding ¼ cup of old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats and 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour.
Cocoa Crackers: Use 1¾ cups of flour and ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Corn Spice Crackers: Substitute 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal for an equal amount of the flour, and add red pepper flakes or taco flavoring to taste.
Pepper Crackers: Add about ½ teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper.
Herb Crackers: Add ½ to 1 teaspoon crumbled herbes de Provence.
Cinnamon Spice Crackers: Sprinkle the crackers with a blend of ground cinnamon and sugar on the baking sheet before they go in the oven.
Nutritional information per cracker: 15 calories, 0 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
Adapted by The Washington Post from a recipe by Pat Elliott, owner of Everona Dairy in Rapidan, Va.