In the world of baking, few things are as versatile as crackers. These crisp, savory treats come in countless varieties, each with its unique personality and flavor profile. As we enter the eighth season of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO), it’s time to ponder the question: What do crackers say about us? Are we frazzled, nutty, or simply believe they’re only good with a drink in hand?
The Cracker Chronicles
Crackers have a long and storied history that dates back to ancient civilizations. Initially, they were practical, long-lasting foods that sustained armies and travelers. Today, they’ve evolved into an essential part of our culinary repertoire.
The Versatility of Crackers
Crackers can be found at fancy cocktail parties, paired with artisanal cheeses, or simply enjoyed as a crunchy snack. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, from delicate water biscuits to hearty whole grain crisps.
The Perfect Companion
One of the defining characteristics of crackers is their affinity for other foods. They play the role of a supporting actor, enhancing the flavors of cheese, dips, spreads, and even toppings like smoked salmon or prosciutto.
The Frazzled Bakers
For some, the idea of baking crackers from scratch may seem frazzling. After all, they’re readily available in stores, and why bother when you can simply grab a box? However, to the dedicated bakers of GBBO and home cooks alike, making crackers is a rewarding endeavor.
The Homemade Touch
Baking crackers from scratch allows for complete control over ingredients and flavors. You can tailor them to your preferences, whether it’s adding a pinch of rosemary for an herbal twist or sprinkling sea salt for that perfect crunch.
The Creative Canvas
Baking your crackers opens up a world of creative possibilities. You can experiment with different flours, herbs, seeds, and spices to craft a cracker that’s uniquely yours. It’s a chance to express your culinary personality.
The Nutty Bakers
On the other hand, some bakers take crackers to the next level, infusing them with their nutty, adventurous spirit. These bakers embrace crackers as a canvas for showcasing their flair and creativity.
Nutty bakers experiment with exotic ingredients like pistachios, walnuts, or pecans, creating crackers that are a delightful mix of savory and nutty goodness. These crackers are perfect for cheese boards and wine pairings.
Creativity knows no bounds for nutty bakers. They craft crackers in unique shapes and sizes, turning them into edible works of art. Star-shaped, heart-shaped, or even animal-shaped crackers add a playful touch to any gathering.
The “Only Good with a Drink” Bakers
Some bakers firmly believe that crackers are best enjoyed with a drink in hand. Whether it’s a glass of wine, a refreshing cocktail, or a cold beer, these crackers are the ultimate accompaniment to a relaxing beverage.
For these bakers, the art of pairing is of utmost importance. They meticulously select crackers that complement the flavors of their chosen drink, enhancing the overall tasting experience.
A Toast to Relaxation
To the “only good with a drink” bakers, crackers are more than just a snack; they’re an invitation to unwind, savor the moment, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
As we delve into the eighth season of GBBO, let’s not forget the humble cracker and the role it plays in our culinary lives. Crackers can reveal a lot about us – whether we’re frazzled bakers taking on the challenge of making them from scratch, nutty bakers infusing them with creativity and flair, or enthusiasts who believe they’re only good with a drink. Regardless of our approach, one thing is certain: crackers are a delicious canvas for our culinary personalities to shine.
So, the next time you reach for a cracker, take a moment to ponder what it says about you. Are you a frazzled, nutty, or a “only good with a drink” kind of baker? Embrace your cracker persona, experiment with flavors, and savor the delightful role these crunchy treats play in your culinary journey.
Spiced Almond Drinks Crackers
350 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ras el hanout (Bart spices make it)
85g chopped unsalted butter at room tenperature
200g natural low fat yoghurt
50g sesame seeds
50g chopped almonds (prechopped – Sainsbury do them)
2 eggs mixed with salt for egg wash
25g hard cheese from a tub (I used Napolina). They don’t crack if you use fresh, but leave it off if you can’t stand the smell (although it does go when baked, honest!)
- Put the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a food processor.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Add the yoghurt, sesame seeds and almonds and knead slightly in the bowl to form a soft dough. You want to ensure the colour is even and there is no streaking and the consistency of the dough is firm. (780g weight)
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces (about 195 g each) and wrap in plastic to prevent drying. Chill for 15 minutes at least.
- Prepare baking trays with baking parchment.
- Divide each piece of chilled dough into 12 balls (each about 16g) and keep them covered in cling film to prevent drying out.
- Roll out one piece of the dough in between parchment as thinly as possible in a rough circle shape. Avoid stretching the dough. Cut out a true circle using a plain 88mm circle cutter.
- Transfer the cracker on the parchment to the tray transferring it directly from parchment to parchment to avoid lifting and stretching the cracker.
- Repeat the process for the other sections of dough until the tray is full.
- Brush the eggwash glaze over each cracker and a light sprinkling of grated hard cheese to each cracker. The cheese can be pressed lightly into the dough.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes until just starting to colour (check after after 6 minutes, usually 8 mins but trays may need to be turned round after 5 minutes to ensure even browning).
- Cool on a wire rack- they will firm up as they cool.