Making homemade crackers is one of the little culinary secrets I love so much. It never occurs to most people that making your own is something that can or would be done. But it is easy to do and pretty impressive when you serve homemade crackers. It took me awhile to get where I wanted to go with making my own crackers. I read and sampled a lot of recipes. Some were too complicated, some just weren’t good, most were fine, but plain. I fiddled around until I had a base recipe that worked with a lot of different flavor additions – herbs and spices and cheese. But this version literally hit me like a lightning bolt. I was serving myself a bowl of soup one night, and doling out some (store-bought) plain crackers and I suddenly thought – bacon crackers. Could it be possible? I went to work immediately, and here is where I landed.
These crispy, salty little gems are the perfect sidecar for a bowl of soup, particularly with Pimento Cheese Soup. That being said, they also take pimento cheese spread to a whole new level. These are excellent on a cheese platter, with a creamy brie, a salty goat or a tangy blue. Or smeared with a little butter. Frankly, they are good all on their own.
If you have a fancy-edged pastry roller this is a great place to use it. Personally, I like the rough and rustic look. Not all my crackers are even or perfect, but if I actually make my own crackers, I want them to look homemade! The crackers do need to be roughly the same size on the same baking sheet for even cooking.
4 strips of bacon, cooked very crispy
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 Tablespoon solidified bacon fat
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 to 2/3 cup very cold water
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
Pat the cooled bacon with paper towels to remove as much grease as possible. Break the bacon into pieces into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse several times to chop the bacon very finely. Scrape the bacon out of the bowl and set aside. Do not worry of there is some bacon residue left on the sides of the bowl.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and one Tablespoon of the chopped bacon in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the bacon grease and the butter pieces. Pulse several times until the mixture looks like sand, with a few larger lumps throughout. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the ice cold water until the dough starts to come together. Check the dough by pinching a bit between your fingers. If it sticks together, you’re done. You may use slightly less water, but you may need a touch more. Add another tablespoon of chopped bacon bits and pulse a few times to mix through the dough. You may not use all the bacon.
Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the cracker dough in half and place one half on the work surface. Knead a little to bring the dough together and pat it into a nice square. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it is as thin as a dime, trying your best to keep it in an even rectangle. Trim off the rough edges and set aside*. Cut the dough into crackers, about 1 inch by 1 inch. I find a pizza wheel a very handy tool for this. You can cut them into smaller crackers if you prefer, but you’ll adjust the cooking time. Carefully transfer the crackers to the prepared baking sheets. The crackers puff up rather than out, so you can place them close together. Prick the top of the crackers with a fork, then very lightly brush the tops with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly puffed, golden brown and firm. Cool on the baking sheets.
The crackers will keep in a completely airtight container for several days. I find a flat, sturdy container works best as a zippered bag doesn’t protect the crackers from breakage very well.
* I like to gather all the scraps and knead them together, then roll them out as sort of a third batch. They may be not as pretty as the rest, but taste just as good.
Makes about 3 dozen