Gluten-Free Tuesday: New England Common Crackers

Gluten Free Tuesday

Delicious, no-compromise recipes for those who need to live a gluten-free lifestyle, but don't want it to taste like it.


[Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone]

Before going gluten-free, there was always a box of Vermont Common Crackers in my pantry. Heartier than a saltline, these layered, almost biscuit-like, crackers pair perfectly with hearty soups or stews. Creating a gluten-free recipe proved surprisingly easy.

Traditional common cracker recipes use yeast as the leavener, requiring that you mix the dough and allow to rise overnight. Since gluten-free dough behaves much differently than wheat-based dough, the yeast-based crackers baked up far too dense and lacked the light crunch and delicate layers found in common crackers.

So I got rid of the yeast and replaced it with baking powder. This ended up serving two purposes. Made with baking powder, the crackers were now light and incredibly crispy and, since the dough doesn't require an overnight rise, you can make a batch quickly.

To make the crackers, simply cut shortening into a blend of white rice flour, sweet rice flour, and tapioca starch, like you'd do for a pie crust. Then add enough water to form a dough and roll. That's it.

And if you're thinking that the flour blend sounds a little boring, you're right. Common crackers, like saltines, don't have a robust flour. They're really all about the texture. When I tried this recipe with other gluten-free flours, like sorghum, the flavor of the crackers took on an aggressive note. They were tasty but too much. The "plain" mix of white rice flours and tapioca starch provided a sturdy texture to the crackers while the flavor fades nicely into the background. In fact, I find their simple flavor quite endearing, and anything but common.