I have a distinct lack of willpower when it comes to crackers. Boxes of Ritz, Trisket, or anything flavored with rosemary disappear in the blink of an eye, so I limit buying them to when we're having guests over. Some people are all about the potato chips, but I'd run over a bag of chips in front of it's own mama if it meant getting to a box of crackers behind it.
However, I haven't found a recipe for homemade crackers that I really, really like. All the recipes I've tried were tasty, and all got points for being blissfully free of hydrogenated oils and corn syrup. But for me, the issue with homemade crackers is that they can't just be 'as-good' as store bought ones. With all the effort of mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking they have to be better. As-good just isn't good enough.
I stumbled upon Cupcake Project's homemade Ritz cracker recipe recently, and after reading through her post I had some pretty high hopes. She had obviously gone through a number of recipe trials testing out vegetable oil vs butter, kosher vs regular salt etc and the photos of the crackers looked very promising.
She mentioned that the look and flavor was right on, but the texture was a little different which also piqued my interested and I put together a batch that very afternoon.
The dough is made in a food processor, which makes putting it together a breeze. I used some of Stirling's Churn84 in the hopes that the extra butter fat would get that super butter, crispy texture I was looking for. I was surprised by how much water the recipe called for as I had been imagining a much drier dough. I had been picturing more of a shortbread dough texture, but this was a lot softer and smoother.
The recipe called for ten minutes of baking time, but I rolled mine so thin that they were done in 5. They puffed up while baking and the end result was about the same thickness as a store bought Ritz.
While the crackers are still hot from the oven they're brushed with melted butter, and I sprinkled a little salt on top of each one.
In the name of science, I tried some of them still warm, then some cool, and some that had a chance to sit for a few hours. They are similar to shortbread in that the flavor and texture greatly improve when you let them cool 100% before sneaking a bite.
I suspect that the water played a role in this seeing as adding too much liquid to pie dough makes it tough and making bread with a high hydration dough helps gluten develop even in the absence of kneading.
If I wasn't on the holy grail Ritz search, I'd be calling it a day and making these again because they are both tasty AND adorable. But in the name of cracker-based-science I plan on making them again and aiming for a less hydrated, more shortbread style dough.
Homemade Ritz Crackers
3 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp + another 1/2 tsp salt for topping
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted <-- I used Stirling Churn84
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup water