We're having chili this weekend. David's racing Saturday so I'm going to take a pot to the race. It'll really hit the spot when he's tired, hungry, and cold. His favorite accompaniment to chili is saltine crackers. I've tried making crackers from scratch, but it was such a long process, I wasn't sure I wanted to revisit the experience. So I had started to think about just buying a box (bad...I know). I was flipping through my new cookbook I got yesterday at the Anza swapmeet for just a quarter, "Better Homes and Gardens, Old-Fashioned Home Baking", when I came across a recipe for Homemade Oyster Crackers. The description had said they stay crisp in soups and salads, maybe it'll be good with the chili... The recipe called for yeast, which was interesting since you really don't want your crackers to rise. It was worth a try, so here I went.
Homemade Oyster Crackers
2 c. flour
1/2 pkg (1 t.) active dry yeast
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dried dillweed, oregano, or basil, crushed (optional)
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1/2 c. water
2 T. shortening
In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, yeast, salt, herbs (if desired), baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set flour mixture aside.
In a small saucepan heat and stir water and shortening just till warm (120* to 130*F) and shortening almost melts. Stir the water mixture into the flour mixture. When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until thoroughly combined. Then knead for 1 to 2 minutes more to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. (The dough was a little dry, so I added some more water.) Divide dough in half. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 mintues.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough very well. Using a 3/4-inch hors d'oeuvre cutter, a pastry wheel, or a sharp knige, cut the dough into desired shapes. Place the dough shapes on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake in a 300*F oven for 40 to 50 minutes or till done. Remove crackers from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 10 dozen. (I used 1" round cutters and got about 7 dozen. They will be gone in no time. Next time, double or triple the recipe.)
The crackers came out a little thicker than the traditional oyster crackers and definitely harder and crunchier, like mini hockey pucks. I think I will make these for our weekend's chili.