I think my new obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder is partly to blame. Reading about how her family made everything from the ground up and considered canned peaches a rare treat (By the Shores of Silver Lake) really helped me shine a light on my consumerist ways.
This brings me to today.
Remember back in the 80s when microwave ovens were new and exciting? Countless cookbooks showed up in stores to help you make everything from simple steamed vegetables to complicated roasts and baked goods. Now we know that microwave baking comes out rubbery and spongy, and most meats need a good sear on them to really taste good. My microwave is largely used for steaming vegetables, defrosting, and reheating leftovers. Today I found that there is one more thing you can do really well in your microwave.
Crackers? But you can't bake in a microwave!!! Oh yes you can! Crackers don't really need baking--they just need cooking until they are dry and crisp. This is where the microwave is ideal. It is really hard to burn a baked item in the microwave -- not impossible--but hard. I spent the morning playing with a recipe from The Joy of Microwaving by the very offical-sounding Microwave Cooking Institute(copyright 1986). By my fourth batch I worked all the kinks out and am really happy with my results. The kids love them.
From start to finish, this recipe only takes about 20 minutes to make and calls for very common ingredients. Go ahead, try it!!!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon caraway seed*, or seasoning of choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (I don't recommend substituting--the texture is just not as flaky)
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
3-4 tablespoons water
corn meal or wheat germ
Makes around 30 crackers, depending on the size
- Combine flour, seasoning and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in butter and oil until particles are fine.
- Sprinkle water over mixture while tossing with a fork (or with your stand mixer on low speed) until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Dump mixture out onto your lightly floured work surface and gently form into a ball' Don't worry if it is a teeny bit crumbly.
- Roll out dough as thin as possible. Really. If you think it is thin enough, roll it a bit more--one or two millimeters thick is ideal. If you didn't overwork your mixture in the first two steps it will easily roll out. If it is getting too tough and elastic, cover the dough with a barely damp kitchen towel and go check your email. Let the gluten in the flour relax for 10-15 minutes and try again.
- Prick the dough all over with a fork and then cut into squares. I used a pizza cutter because I don't have a fancy crimped cutter. (Yet)
- Sprinkle a glass pie plate or pizza stone with cornmeal or wheat germ. Arrange the crackers on the plate. Don't crowd too many in the center--the crackers cook the fastest there. (Ignore the picture...I learned this lesson the hard way.)
- Microwave on HIGH 2-3 minutes , or until dry and puffed. If you don't have a turntable in your microwave, turn the dish a couple of times during cooking. Don't worry about over baking. Check the bottoms of your crackers. If there is any moisture, or the crackers are still flexible when you lift a corner, keep cooking them, checking every 30 seconds. If you use a baking stone you will find your first batch will take the longest, as the stone needs time to preheat. My first batch on a cold baking stone took almost six minutes, while a batch on a pie plate took 2 1/2 minutes.
- Transfer crackers to a wire rack to cool, and then try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting!!