Why It Works
- Barley malt syrup, in the glaze and dough, gives these crackers a flavor and aroma just like the original.
- A touch of bread flour strengthens the dough so it's easier to handle, and it makes the crackers more snappy as well.
- Toasted wheat germ amplifies the grainy taste and texture of the crackers, while also providing a more delicate crunch.
- A pinch of turmeric adds a subtle aroma and color like the real deal.
This isn't a recipe for any old cracker, it's a recipe for crisp and thin whole grain crackers that taste exactly like the kind you buy at the store. My recipe hinges on using the same ingredients you find written right on the box: whole grains, oil, sugar, malt syrup, and turmeric. If you don't have any affection for genuine Wheat Thins, you can get away with a substitution or two, but for those of you who want to make a worthy copy at home, it's vital to use the right ingredients. Trust me, it's worth the effort.
- For the Glaze:
- 2 ounces light corn syrup (about 3 tablespoons; 55g)
- 1/4 ounce barley malt syrup (about 1 1/2 teaspoons; 7g)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1 ounce hot water (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
- For the Crackers:
- 5 ounces whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting (about 1 cup, spooned; 140g)
- 2 1/2 ounces sugar (about 1/3 cup; 70g)
- 1 1/2 ounces bread flour (about 1/4 cup, spooned; 40g)
- 3/4 ounce toasted wheat germ (about 3 tablespoons; 20g)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ounce refined coconut oil, solid but creamy (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
- 1/4 ounce barley malt syrup (1 1/2 teaspoons; 7g)
- 3 ounces water (about 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon; 85g)
For the Glaze: Combine corn syrup, malted barley syrup, and salt in a small bowl, then add hot water and stir with a fork until the salt is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
For the Crackers: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, preheat to 350°F, and cut two parchment sheets to 11- by 16-inches. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar, bread flour, wheat germ, salt, turmeric, cream of tartar, baking soda, and coconut oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coconut oil disappears into a fine, powdery meal. Mix barley malt and water in a small glass to dissolve the syrup, then add to dry mix and process to form a stiff dough. Knead lightly on an unfloured surface, then divide in half and drape with a damp paper towel.
To Roll: Place a prepared parchment sheet on a clean work surface, and dust generously with whole wheat flour. Place one portion of dough in the center, sprinkle with flour, and, using a rolling pin, roll into a roughly 5- by 8-inch rectangle. Dust with flour and carefully flip the dough over, sprinkling more flour on top, wherever you notice a sticky patch. Continue rolling from the center out, until the dough extends just past the edges of the parchment and is no thicker than 1/16 inch; the crackers will puff significantly in the oven, so this thinness is key to keeping them thin and crisp.
To Glaze and Cut: Trim away the ragged edges with a pizza wheel, and lightly brush the dough with glaze. If you like, use a docking tool to decorate the crackers. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares with a pizza wheel (they will shrink in the oven), then carefully transfer the parchment and crackers to an aluminum half sheet pan. This can be done by lifting two opposite corners and pulling the paper taut, or by sliding the parchment and crackers on and off a pizza peel.
To Bake: Sprinkle with salt and bake the crackers to a light yellow-brown, about 12 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through to ensure even browning in the ultra-thin dough. The bake-time is highly variable, depending on the exact thickness of the dough, the type of baking sheet used, and any variations in dough thickness. Keep a close eye on the crackers as they bake, as they may brown and crisp faster depending on these variables. Cool to room temperature directly on the baking sheet; the crackers will not be crisp while warm. Repeat with the remaining dough (if rolled/cut in advance, the crackers won't shrink away from each other as they should). Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to one month.
Food processor, rolling pin, pastry brush, docking tool (optional), pizza wheel
If you haven't already picked up a jar of barley malt syrup for my homemade bagels and malted chocolate chip cookies, grab some online—my favorite brand is Eden. You can make great crackers without it, but they won't taste like real Wheat Thins.