If I were organized enough to write lists, I’d have one as long as my arm titled “Things That Must Be Done TODAY.” With that in mind, I followed my favorite avoidance strategy and started baking. Hey – it’s the perfect procrastination technique, because I’m obviously busy, productive, and removed from reality!
Today I thought I’d try a recipe I saw on Serious Eats for homemade Wheat Thin-type crackers. It looked simple enough, and I counted on a quick distraction with a wholesome result. “Everyone” said they tasted just like the real thing. Huh. I just finished my fifth attempt; it’s time to cook dinner, and nothing else has been accomplished. A perfect Monday project!
Batch #1: I followed the recipe exactly and got a very healthy cracker that would probably be wonderful if you had a bowl of salmon dip to go with it. On the plus side, it tasted and looked good, and was made with quality ingredients. On the minus side, it was definitely not like a Wheat Thin. I know this because I L.O.V.E Wheat Thins. It just wasn’t crispy enough, and didn’t have that “snap” to it that I wanted.
Batch #2: So I tried again. This time I tried the recipe with half shortening and half butter. I baked half of the dough and then added dried basil and garlic to the other half. Still not crispy enough, even though I pretty much burned the basil and garlic batch. Damn Facebook.
Batch #3: I used half shortening and half butter, and then replaced half of the wheat flour with white. Better. Not as nutritious, but the cracker was definitely crispier. It helped that I rolled the second half of the dough out thinner. Really thin. Communion wafer thin. (If I had a pasta maker this would have been much easier.) But still….meh. Not what I was looking for.
Batch #4: By the time I started my fourth batch, healthy wasn’t even a goal anymore. Now I just wanted to make a Wheat Thin! All shortening, half white flour, part brown sugar (to try to add the flavor that Nabisco gets by using malt syrup and invert sugar) and a little cornstarch. They looked prettier, and were very acceptable; I’d proudly serve them to company. But they were definitely lacking crunch. By now I’m really frustrated, but not beaten.
For Batch #5, peanut oil was substituted for shortening and I add a little baking soda. I coated the cookie sheet with peanut oil and salt, put the dough squares on the sheet, and then turned them over so that both sides would be lightly coated. I turned the temperature down from 400 F to 350 F and set the timer for 15 minutes.
They were looking good, but weren’t quite done. This is where I often run into trouble. My famous line is “I’ll just give them another minute or two” and then mosey off to the computer or a book. Here’s what usually happens:
So I set the timer for 5 more minutes, and was rewarded with a perfectly browned batch of crackers. I wish I could tell you they turned out JUST LIKE WHEAT THINS. I know you can’t see me, but I blush when I lie, so I try to stick to the truth. They were good. Very good. Wheaty and attractive. You will like them, I’m sure. But the perfect recipe eludes me, and after a whole day of baking and testing, I guess it’s time to cry uncle.
Sometimes “good enough” is the reality.
|Thin Wheat Crackers
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose white flour
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 5 tablespoons peanut oil (plus 2 teaspoons for baking sheets)
- ¼ cup water (more if needed)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
- Add oil and water, mix thoroughly. Add just enough additional water to be able to form the dough into a ball.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of oil on baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt. Set aside.
- Working with half of the dough at a time, on a floured surface roll dough out as thinly as possible. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter.
- Place squares onto oiled baking sheet. Turn each one over so that all squares are lightly coated on both sides.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Flip crackers over and continue to bake until browning around edges, approximately another 5-8 minutes. Watch carefully.
- Put baking sheet on rack to cool.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Makes approximately 60 crackers.