In this cracker recipe and its variation, you can blend pretty much whatever you like — cheese, nuts, garlic, herbs, and/or spices for starters — directly onto the dough or replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat, rye, or cornmeal. Or just before baking, dust the tops with coarse salt, poppy seeds, or spices.
You don’t need any special equipment to make crackers, though a food processor speeds things up a bit. The success of a cracker depends on your ability to roll out the dough until it's quite thin, 1/4 inch or even less. Flour is your friend, but use only as much as you need to keep the dough from sticking.
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or good-quality vegetable oil
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F with a large pizza stone on the center rack if you have one.
2. Put the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until combined, or cut them together in a bowl with 2 knives or your fingertips. Add about 1/4 cup water and continue to mix until the dough holds together but is not sticky, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.
3. Put a large piece of parchment paper on a clean work surface and dust lightly with flour. Turn out the dough onto the parchment and knead it a few times to make a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece to 1/4 inch thick or even thinner — it can’t be bigger than your baking sheet, but aim to get it about that size — turning it a few times to prevent sticking and sprinkling with more flour as needed. If it sticks, sweep a bench scraper under the dough to help lift it. If at any point the dough shrinks back, leave it alone to rest, uncovered, for a few minutes. Score lightly with a sharp knife or pizza cutter if you want to break the crackers into neat squares or rectangles after baking. Poke the surface all over with a fork if you like. Repeat with the other half to bake both pieces at one time or set it aside if you’re baking in batches.
4. Transfer the parchment with the dough directly to a baking sheet or the pizza stone. Bake until the bottom is lightly browned, about 10 minutes, checking periodically to make sure the edges don’t burn. Depending on your oven, the crackers may brown unevenly; you may want to trim or break off any darker parts along the edges and then let the rest finish. If the crackers brown before they’ve fully crisped up, crack the oven door, decrease the heat to 200 degrees, and continue baking until completely dried out and crisp, another 5 minutes or so. Cool on the parchment on a wire rack, then carefully break the crackers apart. Serve a room temperature or store in an airtight container for a couple days.
Cream Crackers: Rich and delicious, they really need nothing but a little salt on top. Increase the butter to 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick). Substitute milk or cream for the water. Sprinkle the unbaked dough with coarse salt.
Parmesan Crackers: Perfect with salads or grilled vegetables. In step 1, add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese along with the flour.