In which I make like Nabisco and bake homemade crackers.
Let it be noted that I don't really care anything about college football. I like the Chicago Bears. That's it. I was so into them when I was in high school that I asked for--and received--a men's wool Bears sweater in the style of Mike Ditka for Christmas 1990.
I know what you're thinking; with this sort of style, I was obviously one of the popular kids. It doesn't get any more hip than a men's Chicago Bears sweater from the Sears catalog. However, if you can believe it, I actually wasn't one of the popular kids, although I had many friends who were quite popular . . . and very tolerant. No, I have simply always put great stock in my own opinion of how I look--and, by god, I thought I looked awesome. Now I desperately want this sweater back. I want this sweater!
I feel like I've gotten distracted by the sweater . . . anyway, even though it's only the end of July, the smell of college football is definitely in the air here in our home. Our son is getting ready to start school next week, and my husband is obsessed with the Florida Gators. I don't personally allow my mood or quality of life to depend on whether a team wins or loses a game, but he does. And he likes it, which I find vaguely psychotic.
I couldn't care less about watching the games, but I'm now on a kick, inspired by my new Great British Bake Off cookbooks, of trying out potential football/autumn snack bakes. I became intrigued by homemade crackers two weeks ago because they seemed so easy and strangely exotic because who in the world makes their own crackers? The cracker and cookie aisle is my second-favorite aisle at the grocery store; crackers are a glorious world unto themselves. Nobody needs to make them because the manufactured varieties are often actually healthy in addition to being delicious. What's the point of making a mess when you can open a box? But don't you see? That's why homemade crackers are so alluring and mysterious! Could there be something about homemade crackers that would make them worthwhile? I wanted to find out, and I had this image in my head of Terry (husband) piling them high with toppings and enjoying the living hell out of them. (That's how he enjoys all remotely decent food.) Baking is considerably more fun when the in-house taster loves everything except butter beans. (He hates butter beans.)
I chose the cheese and mustard cracker recipe in the Great British bake Off Everyday cookbook. Thanks to the wonder that is Google Books, you can find the recipe here: Great British Bake Off Everyday: Cheese and Mustard Crackers. It wasn't accompanied by a picture, so we're all flying blind with only our wits and excessively good looks to get us through. (You're very attractive, but you would be more attractive if you were wearing a vintage Cliff Engle Chicago Bears sweater.)
The recipe could not be simpler. You put everything (a mere seven ingredients) in a food processor, pulse it a few times, and the dough is made.
The only tricky part comes next--shmooshing it all together with plastic wrap and shaping it. When dealing with this type of crumbly dough (or even pastry), I like to utilize the plastic wrap to do the shmooshing for me. So, I dump the dough onto a big sheet of plastic wrap and schmooshy shape it by bringing the plastic wrap together in various contortions. Then, in this case, I shaped it into a cube-like shape.
Then, it chills for at least an hour in the fridge until firm, at which time you unwrap it and slice it.
Terry chose a pub mustard that contains big mustard seeds, and I like how the seeds are visible in the crackers.
Then, you bake them for 15-18 minutes, and they're done! They could not be easier.
Aren't they pretty? The cheese and mustard lend such good color.
They are a bit crumbly when baked, but they're supposed to be. They're really what I would consider a cross between a true cracker and a British biscuit, which is why they're purposely crumbly. The crumbly nature works with cheese spreads, though.
I didn't even edit the cooling rack pictures; the sun in the kitchen window was almost too bright--my apologies.
And so ended the great cracker experiment, completely successfully. We strongly recommend them! In fact, the only problem was that they lasted Terry for only two meals. He piled them with slices of fresh tomato and packed them in his mouth hole. If I made them all of the time, he'd definitely have to go up a size in his vintage Bears sweater. We all do, from time to time.