Make Your Own Free-Form Herb Crackers

I have a confession to make: I spend a lot of time on the King Arthur Flour blog. I’ve found some fantastic recipes there; this one for Gourmet Soda Crackers, by PJ Hamel, was a springboard for the recipe here, Free-Form Herb Crackers, and for Nacho Cheese Crackers. I designed the herb crackers to serve with cheese; the nacho cheese crackers were the result of a fantasy about merging Cheez-Its with jalapeño rings—sort of a high-low thing. Here’s part one, the classy crackers:

Free-Form Herb Crackers
Makes 2 (10-by-12-inch) sheets

1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
7 tablespoons warm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 1/2 cups "00" flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
Fresh herbs (I used rosemary needles, sage leaves, and sprigs of tarragon)
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Step 1: In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside to let the yeast come alive and froth, about 15 minutes.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the measured flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and measured salt. Set aside.

Step 3: Gently heat the butter and measured vegetable oil until the butter is just melted. Add to the yeast mixture.

Step 4: Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. With your stand mixer’s paddle attachment, mix on low till just combined, about 60 seconds.

Step 5: At this point, the dough will look wet and won’t clump together well. That’s good! Just scoop it all out and, with your hands, form it into a ball. Place the ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Step 6: Let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Step 7: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 8: On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand, then pat it into a rough rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to a larger rectangle, approximately 10 inches by 15 inches. Fold each of the short sides in toward the center until they meet—you should have a rectangle measuring approximately 6 inches by 13 inches. Turn the dough 90 degrees, then roll it out again to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle.

Step 9: With a knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough in half to yield two 10-by-8-inch pieces.

Step 10: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a piece of dough on each. Scatter the herbs all over the surface of the dough pieces, sprinkle with sea salt, and gently press the herbs and salt into the dough using the palm of your hand—not all of the herbs will stick, but that’s OK. To keep the dough from puffing too much as it bakes, prick the surface all over with the tines of a fork.

Step 11: Bake until the surface takes on a light brown tint, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door completely. Let the crackers sit in the oven for 1 hour. They’ll keep cooking and drying out, becoming crispy. Break by hand into irregular pieces and serve with cheese.

My previous BAKED projects:

Make Your Own Nacho Cheese Crackers

Make Your Own Flour Tortillas

Make Your Own Naan (and Decide How to Bake It)

Photos and animated GIFs by Chris Rochelle