How to Bring Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers Home

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

In my heart, this should go without saying, but Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers are the best crackers in the universe. They're hearty and thick, with a grainy crunch and flavor that's nutty and bright, almost tangy, plus a subtle sweetness to offset savory bites, like olives or cheese.

While I'm more than happy to pick up a box at the store, whole wheat crackers are super easy to make from scratch, and for me, that's a lot of fun. The homemade version tastes just as satisfying and substantial as the real deal—perhaps just a little better, because these are made with butter instead of oil.

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As you might expect, the recipe starts with whole wheat flour, along with a generous helping of toasted wheat germ for a more satisfying crunch. The dough is seasoned with a pinch of salt, and leavened in part with cream of tartar and baking soda, plus baking powder for a little extra oomph. Along with the aforementioned butter, those dry ingredients are blitzed up in a food processor, then combined with a surprising addition—buttermilk.

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Buttermilk provides lactic acid that mimics the tanginess Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers get from malic acid—technically, it's part of their leavening blend, but the by-product is pleasantly sour, like green apples. Buttermilk isn't quite the same, of course, but it comes impressively close.

If buttermilk's hard to come by where you live, plain kefir works well, but avoid common buttermilk substitutions, like a combination of milk and lemon juice, which won't taste or behave the same way.

With a few quick pulses in your food processor, it all comes together in a sturdy dough that's easy to roll out nice and thin—a little less than a quarter inch.

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Since the crackers will puff considerably as they bake, do be sure to check the dough with a good ruler, then provide some steam vents with a fork or docking tool.

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Although any size or shape is fine, for the most uncannily accurate copycat crackers, cut the dough into two-and-a-quarter-inch rounds, then arrange them on a parchment-lined half sheet pan.

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Bake until the crackers are puffed and dry to the touch, with a slightly darker gold starting to creep around the very edges. When in doubt, err on the side of caution; under-baked crackers can always be popped back in the oven to crisp, but there's no coming back from burned. Resist the urge to nibble on the crackers while they're still warm, as they won't fully crisp until they're cool.

Thanks to their low moisture content, the crackers will keep for well over a month in an airtight container at room temperature. That means they're a great make-ahead option for dinner parties and holiday gatherings, or just a great emergency snack to have on hand any time.

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I'm crazy about these with a generous smear of peanut butter, but they're also a natural addition to a cheese plate, and perfect alongside soups or salads. To be honest, at least in my household, there aren't many meals at which these nutty little whole grain crackers don't make a welcome feature.

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