Saturday, March 15, 2014

Homemade (Ritz copycat) crackers

I had an inexplicable craving for Ritz crackers yesterday, but can't actually bring myself to buy a package of Ritz crackers. Notably, this is because I get heart palpitations any time I eat anything containing HFCS — including products which don't openly list it as an ingredient, but use the term "glucose/fructose" instead. So it was on to the internet to try to discover a recipe for Ritz-like crackers. Multiple hits predominantly led me to Cupcake Project's Homemade Ritz Crackers recipe, which the author claims is "spot on" in terms of taste.

I made up a dairy-free batch of the dough here, omitting the vegetable oil and using a full ½ cup of vegan margarine as the fat component. I also broke from the technique described and treated this more like a proper pastry, attempting to work in the fat using the fat-handling technique I started using after seeing Anna Olson do it. I used ice water. I tried to work the dough as Anna Olson does: folding it to get it to come together. I tried to keep the dough-handling to a minimum to try not to develop the gluten too much. I gave it a half-hour of resting time. Despite all this, the dough was still noticeably more overworked than my usual pie crust recipe; I suspect the addition of baking powder causes that.

I rolled the dough as thin as I could, still trying not to overwork it. I got it very thin. Coupled with the fact that it clearly has more gluten development than my usual pie crust, this meant that it didn't cut well at all. Still, I baked off a small batch and am pleased to report that they do taste exactly like Ritz Crackers. One small caveat: these are not to be underbaked. The ones which weren't fully crispy had an unsettlingly soft texture. They taste exactly like their crunchier brethren, but are alarmingly unlike the texture one would expect.

I'd like to experiment with using coconut oil in these for future experiments, as I think that will probably improve the crispiness and flavour, but I'll happily munch on these in the meantime.

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