Make your next cheese and charcuterie course one to remember with delicious homemade crackers for serving. Our version comes together quickly and easily, and it’s easy to vary with your favorite spices and herbs. Best of all, you can roll out and freeze sheets of dough for up to a month before you’re ready to bake them, and frozen sheets can go straight into the oven at a moment’s notice. Did we mention they make beautiful host and hostess gifts, too?
2 cups (10 oz./315 g.) all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 Tbs. solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) heavy cream, plus extra if needed
BY HAND: In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, pepper and poppy, sesame and mustard seeds. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the shortening and butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of peas. Pour in the cream and mix with a fork until a rough mass forms.
BY FOOD PROCESSOR: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, pepper and poppy, sesame and mustard seeds and pulse 1 or 2 times to mix. Add the shortening and butter and pulse 7-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of peas. Pour in the cream and pulse a few times until the dough comes together in a rough mass.
Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface and gently squeeze it together. Add a few more drops of cream if the dough will not hold a soft shape. Gently press the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or for up to 1 hour.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 half-sheet pans or rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough disk and place on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Roll out one-half of the dough into a rectangular sheet as thin as possible without tearing, dusting it with flour as needed to prevent sticking to either the work surface or the rolling pin. Trim the edges of the dough to fit the prepared pan, then carefully transfer the sheet to the pan. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Alternatively, using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough sheets into shapes and place on the pans.
Bake 1 sheet of crackers at a time until they are crisp and brown, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely until crisp. If you have baked the dough in sheets, break each sheet into shards. The crackers are best when eaten fresh, but they may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Lemon-Thyme Crackers: Omit the poppy, sesame and mustard seeds. Add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme with the pepper.
Oregano-Parmesan Crackers: Omit the poppy, sesame and mustard seeds. Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese with the pepper.
Spicy Jack Cheese Crackers: Omit the pepper, poppy and sesame seeds. Add 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika and 2 tablespoons grated dry jack cheese with the mustard seeds.