I’ve had a sudden urge lately to make some cheese crackers or cheese straws or something. I finally gave in today and made them. They’re sort of like Cheez-its, but less salty and with less cheese flavor.
I would like to think that they are healthier overall than Cheez-its, but lets not kid ourselves: anything made with vegetable shortening that is then sprinkled with salt and brushed with melted butter isn’t health food.
I tried to make homemade crackers, not cheese crackers, just plain crackers, twice before. Once was when I was in approximately junior high, when I’d just bought the Little House Cookbook. Almost all of the recipes were out of my skill set (Homemade apple cider vinegar, anyone?) but hardtack was one of the ones I knew I could handle.
If hardtack doesn’t sound like an appetizing food product to you, you would be right. The name says it all. Hardtack is hard. And pretty tasteless. It’s only redeeming features, if you happen to be traveling in the Old West, are that it doesn’t spoil and doesn’t crumble in your saddle bags.
Then a year or so ago I checked out a book from the library that had a couple of cracker recipes. I was intrigued, so I tried one on a whim one night. I really should have read over the recipe better before starting in.
Something was wrong with it. It had a ton of Crisco, and not nearly enough flour. It had to be a misprint. Either that, or the author never actually bothered to cook the recipe himself. I just kept adding and adding flour, and finally got something almost edible, but not very enjoyable.
I do not believe in writing in or otherwise defacing library books, but I put a note on a post-it and stuck it on the recipe on the off chance that anyone else was ever tempted to try that one.
So I was a little gun-shy about crackers.
I found this cheese cracker recipe in Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. It didn’t use as much cheese as a lot of the cheese cracker recipes I’ve seen, only an ounce and a half, but still had a good flavor.
I was worried about that since I’ve tried several different cheese breads before and have always been disappointed how little cheese flavor comes through in the final loaf, no matter how much cheese goes in. I imagine using a larger amount of cheese (like the homemade Cheez-it recipe here) would only make them better.
I thought that the ones on the edge that were browned the most tasted best. I tend to like the Cheez-its that are a little browner, too.
I think I will be making these again. I’d like to experiment with different herbs and maybe a really sharp cheddar. I would also like to try replacing the Crisco with butter.