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I never thought I’d make crackers. If I could get them for less than a dollar a box, why would I take the time and effort? Besides, rolling out dough is not one of my favorite things (pie crust and cut out cookies, I’m looking at you).
But when you start reading labels and caring about what’s in the food you’re eating, those cheap crackers don’t look so good anymore. I still by regular Triscuits (three ingredients!) if I have a coupon, but natural and organic crackers are around $2 a box- even with a coupon – so I decided to take the plunge and try making a whole wheat cracker recipe.
And if I was going to make crackers, I might as well take the opportunity to use up the extra sourdough starter I usually have on hand before or after feeding. What’s more, this recipe for sourdough whole wheat crackers is one of very few sourdough recipes that doesn’t require an active starter.
Meaning, you can take the starter out of the fridge and make these right away. It’s a great way to use some starter before feeding it again, when you’re creating a new starter and have some to pour off, or any other time you have extra starter (which if you grow and use sourdough you know is quite a bit).
Wondering about sourdough? Here’s my easy guide to all things sourdough with how to grow a starter, tips, recipes, and my lazy method of storage.
Three things surprised me about these sourdough whole wheat crackers:
- The dough was really easy to work with and rolled out beautifully without tearing.
- They take only about an hour to make– start to finish.
- They are delicious and my family LOVES them. In fact, they’d probably eat them all in one day if I didn’t ration them a bit!
Plus, one sure way to impress people is to make something that most people have only ever bought at stores their whole lives – a classic pantry basic. Giving a container of these crackers along with cream cheese and a home-canned topping like Tomato Chutney or Honey-Sweetened Jalapeño Jelly would make a unique and yummy handmade gift.
If you keep them from being devoured by your family, that is.
Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers Tutorial
Pour 1 cup of sourdough starter into a large bowl. I always use my Kitchenaid stand mixer, but of course it can be made by hand.
TIP: I then feed my sourdough starter and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours before putting it back in the fridge. If I want it to be active to make a loaf of sourdough artisan bread, I’ll feed it again during that time to make sure it’s doubled and bake with it before storing in the fridge.
Add the butter and honey and mix well. If you like the flavor of coconut oil, feel free to use it in place of butter. Our family felt the flavor was too strong and we really like them with butter, but that’s one of the joys of cooking your own things – adapt to what you like!
Add the remaining flour to the mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. This “kneads” the flour into a smooth dough.
TIP: I have found that when my starter is wetter I need to add a bit more flour- 1 tablespoon at a time- until I have a smooth and stiff dough. Other times, 1 cup flour is enough. Adjust yours as needed.
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and start the oven heating to 350 degrees.
Place the dough on a well-floured surface and divide into thirds. Roll out one portion at a time, while keeping the remaining dough covered with a towel.
Shape the dough into a circle with your hands and then start rolling it out on the floured board, turning and flouring as needed to keep from sticking. As you can see, the dough can be rolled thin evenly and without tearing- it really is easy to work with.
TIP: It’s OK to use as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking- it doesn’t seem to affect the end product.
A good cracker is a thin cracker, so keep rolling until the dough is about 1/8- inch thick.
This is how thin you want to aim for- I’m guessing this is about 1/8-inch thick, but I didn’t actually measure it (how?)- what do you think? And it doesn’t tear even doing this, though you can see everything’s pretty well floured.
Use a pizza wheel (makes it so easy!) or a knife to cut the dough into cracker-sized squares (the size is totally up to you- I was aiming for the Wheat-Thin size).
Trim off the really ragged edges. You can see I leave some of the larger edges and we have half-crackers as well as whole ones, though the smaller, thinner edges do brown faster when baking, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them.
Transfer the crackers to a silicone (black silicone liners are my favorite for better browning) or parchment lined cooking sheet with a little space between them (they don’t spread) and spray with a little olive oil, using a Mr. Misto or other oil sprayer.
TIP: I found that trying to brush each cracker took way too long and moved them all over the tray as I was brushing, so I just spray them. Make sure that each cracker gets some oil, but don’t worry about each cracker being covered evenly (as you can see above!) – it doesn’t seem to make a difference when they’re cooked, so it’s not worth the extra time it takes.
After spraying, lightly sprinkle them with fine sea salt. When I tried a coarser salt, they were just too salty, so I’m very careful with salting the tops.
As soon as one baking sheet is filled (this recipe makes three large baking pans of crackers), place them in the oven to cook while repeating the rolling and cutting with another portion of dough.
Bake the crackers about 8-9 minutes (rotated halfway through) until they are medium-browned. Pictured above is a sheet pulled out at 8.5 minutes- you can see some are more brown than others. I remove the darker ones and place the sheet back in the oven for a few more minutes so the lighter colored crackers can get done. I discovered that the crackers that are lighter never crisp up and are chewy rather than crisp, so I take the time to cook them longer.
TIP: Leaning towards the side of too dark is better than too light, since crisper is better than chewy for crackers- just keep them from actually burning.
Let cool on a rack before storing in an airtight container, like these retro-style glass jars similar to mine at a great price (which are actually called “cracker jars!”). They stay nice and crisp up to a week when stored like this – the few times they’ve lasted that long!