Ritz Schmitz—Make Your Own Damn Soup Crackers | Dish | Indy Week
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Ritz Schmitz—Make Your Own Damn Soup Crackers 

click to enlarge Do-it-yourself crackers add a homemade crunch to your favorite soups.

Photo by Ben McKeown

Do-it-yourself crackers add a homemade crunch to your favorite soups.

We can all agree that canned soup has nothing on the real deal. So why do we settle for commodity crackers? While they sound fussy to pull off at home, do-it-yourself crackers are no trickier than making biscuits or cookies—you just roll the dough thinner. Still don't believe me? Try one of these recipes.

SHARP CHEDDAR SHORTBREAD CRACKERS

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups crackers

Think "cheese its"—you know, without the 'z.' Here, a savory shortbread (instead of sugar, the dough features lots of sharp cheddar) yields flaky, crumbly, bite-sized crackers. To get the full fake-cheese-it effect, cut them into tiny squares and poke a hole in the center. Pair with tomato, cream of broccoli, cream of spinach, and French onion.

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft

8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the butter and cheddar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream on medium-high speed until completely smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix on low until a dough forms, scraping again as needed.

Divide the dough in two. Form each section into a rough rectangle and bundle in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll one dough section into a rectangle, roughly 1/8-inch thick. (If it tears or breaks, just piece it back together!) Use a pizza wheel or a knife to divide the dough into tiny squares. (At this point, you can freeze the crackers on the tray, then transfer them to a big bag. Store in the freezer for up to one month and bake frozen; just add a few minutes to the baking time.)

Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheet and use a chopstick to create a hole in the center of each cracker. Repeat with the remaining dough section. You can reroll the dough scraps a couple of times.

Bake for ten to twelve minutes, until the edges and bottoms are just starting to color; they will continue to crisp as they cool. Let cool completely before serving. To store, keep in an airtight container or plastic bag.

SALTY WHOLE-WHEAT CRACKERS

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups crackers

Imagine Wheat Thins colliding with saltines. These crackers are crunchy and salty, with a nutty flavor from whole-wheat flour. They're also mild enough to work well with a wide range of soups. Pair with chicken noodle, clam chowder, minestrone, or cream of mushroom.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

4 to 5 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and pinch the mixture with your fingertips until it turns crumbly. Add the buttermilk, bit by bit, and stir with a fork until cohesive dough forms.

Generously flour a clean work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle, roughly 1/8-inch thick. Use a pizza wheel or a knife to divide the dough into tiny squares. (At this point, you can freeze the crackers on the tray, then transfer them to a big bag. Store in the freezer for up to one month and bake frozen; just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.) Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle kosher or flaky salt on top. You can reroll the dough scraps a couple times.

Bake for ten to twelve minutes, until the edges and bottoms of the crackers are golden brown; they will continue to crisp as they cool. Let cool completely before serving. To store, keep in an airtight container or plastic bag.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Take a Crack At It"

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