Why It Works
- Cutting the dough into squares, rectangles, or diamonds obviates the need for a special dough cutter or excessively fussy shaping.
- Keeping the crackers in the oven with the door cracked after they are baked renders them crisp and crunchy.
When I was a kid, the retired couple next door took on the role of surrogate grandparents/babysitters. Their kitchen was where I learned to make a pie crust, their garden was where I saw my first Swiss chard in the wild, and their family room was where I caught up on every Matlock and Murder She Wrote episode ever produced. In my memories, there were always great snacks at their house, but even more than the just-baked elderberry pie and sugar cookies, I remember the evenings we spent with a big bag of oyster crackers and a tub of butter. Yes, buttered crackers were what most impressed my seven-year-old self, and I still think back to those cozy, murder-mystery evenings whenever I see a bag.
Whenever I actually taste the crackers in those bags these days, however, I wonder if it's my palate or their production values that have shifted. I don't remember them giving off the impression of...tissue paper quite so much, dissolving on the tongue like a communion wafer. So this version of the iconic cracker is just a little bit more robust, a little richer, a little butterier. It will stand up to but not overpower your soup.
After my DIY sesame sticks project, I flirted with the idea of cutting some corners—even if the shape of the crackers might not turn out just right. Upon further reflection, I think those sesame sticks taught me an important lesson. While there may be cooks out there who can produce a bag's worth of perfectly shaped and smiling goldfish crackers, I now know that I am not one of them. So while I understand that oyster crackers are often hexagon-shaped, after considering how to produce so many small bites with some degree of efficiency, I decided that rectangles were cute enough. "Approximate uniformity" would be the guiding principle to my cracker geometry. Once they poofed up in the oven, I didn't miss those stop signs of carbohydrate one bit.
This is a no-stress side project that could easily be done while your soup is simmering. That said, it gets flour all over the counter and you have to cut dough into small pieces, possibly negating the laid-back, one-pot cooking that is often what makes soup so attractive (to me, at least). I bought a 12-ounce bag for a dollar, so I'm not even going to try and talk economics. Ingredient-wise, this homemade version swaps in butter for the palm, canola, and soybean oils in my grocery's house brand. Beyond that, however, rather than coat the surface of the crackers with an envelope of salad dressing mix, this would also be an excellent opportunity to make your own signature flavor with seasonings such as dried herbs or black pepper mixed right into the dough. I have a feeling substituting a teaspoon or more of Old Bay seasoning for the salt would not be amiss here in Baltimore.
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling (see notes)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup cold water, plus additional as needed
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add butter and using a pastry cutter or fingertips, work into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add water and lightly knead dough until it comes together into a ball.
Set dough on a lightly floured surface and cover with an overturned mixing bowl. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Roll dough out on a well floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares, rectangles, or diamonds. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and space the shapes out as much as possible.
Bake until crackers are showing color around the bottom edges, about 15 minutes. Turn oven off and crack the door open about 8 inches. Leave crackers inside to cool and continue to crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, season with salt, and allow to cool completely. Crackers can be stored in a sealed container for up to a week.
Rimmed baking sheet, parchment paper
The recipe can be easily doubled. Spread pieces across two baking sheets. Add 5-10 minutes to total baking time, rotating sheets half way through.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||8%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|