Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cracking Up

I'm not trying to turn this into a recipe blog, really, but I'm snowbound at home and preparing meals with whatever's handy, so that's what I've been thinking about lately. I've been making these oatmeal crackers for a few years now and I quite like them. They're really fragile so I always bake them just before I'm ready to eat, but I enjoy them mainly for their toasty fragrance and flavor, which are best right out of the oven anyway. And when's the last time you had freshly baked crackers?

Oatmeal Crackers
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats, dry
  • 1/8 t. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 t. oil (I use canola, but any vegetable oil, including olive oil, would be fine)
  • water (amount varies; about 1/4 c. total)
  • non-stick vegetable spray
  • more salt and/or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
Blend the oats, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil and mix until it's evenly distributed. Add water a tablespoon or so at a time and mix until a crumbly dough forms. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick vegetable spray and dump the dough onto the baking sheet. Spread a sheet of clear plastic wrap over the dough on the baking sheet, and use your fingers to press out the dough, through the plastic wrap, into a thin, even layer. Important: Remove the plastic wrap before baking! We're not making Shrinky Dinks here.

If desired, sprinkle the dough with a little more salt (salt with some texture, like kosher or sea salt, would be good here), sesame seeds, or whatever. (I haven't tried herbs because I like these crackers really well with just salt, and I worry that herbs would burn during baking. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes.)

Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into bite-sized pieces. (Don't try to move the dough around on the baking sheet, it's too fragile for that, but if you wait until after the crackers are baked and then try to cut them, you'll end up with crumbs.) Bake the crackers in a moderate oven until they're dry, crisp, and browned at the edges. Time and temperature will depend on your oven, how much water you used, and how thinly you pressed out the dough. In my countertop convection oven, they usually need about 20 minutes at 350°.

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