When Julie and I set out to write our book, we never once discussed including a recipe for homemade fruit and nut crisps (brand name Raincoast/Lesley Stowe Crackers). Seems sort of silly since she’s the one who cracked the code on how to make them at home in the first place.
Since she did so all those years ago, variations on the recipe have appeared on popular blogs, cooking websites, and even in books. For good reason too, because it’s really something worth knowing how to make, especially as we enter the holiday season.
I used to snatch up boxes of those popular store-bought crackers to add a little something extra special to my cheese platter, but at almost $9 per package, it was a high price to pay for not a lot of servings. This homemade version yields nearly 8 dozen crackers (less, if you don’t cut them as thinly as instructed) and is made from things you likely already have hanging around in the cupboard, maybe with the exception of the dried fruit and/or nuts and seeds.
So, how do you serve these twice-baked beauties? Anyway you like, really! They pair perfectly with a creamy brie, work well with something strong and pungent like a favourite blue, and are the ideal vehicle for a smearable cheese, like Boursin or goat. They’re sturdy enough to use as the base of any hors d’oeuvres and pack enough of a flavour punch that they can be munched on their own.
As usual, my very favourite thing about making these homemade crackers is that most of the work can be done in advance. You mix and bake the loaves, then freeze them until you need the crackers. In fact, you can make them now and tuck a few different variations in your freezer until the holidays, when you’ll simple need to remove the frozen loaves, slice the crackers and bake them just before serving. That’s my preferred way of preparing them, but you can also bake them off a few days in advance, if you like.
How do you feel about homemade crackers? Is it something you’d make? Do you love them for entertaining as much as I do?
Looking for more holiday how-tos? Check out the series here:
Homemade Fruit and Nut Crisps
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey, warmed
- 1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Add-In Option 1:
- 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Add-In Option 2:
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Add-In Option 3:
- 1 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350° F and grease two 8" x 4" loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the pumpkin/sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, rosemary, and desired add-ins (choose from one of the options) and stir just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown in colour and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
The bread is easiest to slice when it's had the chance to cool completely. Transfer cooled loaves to a freezer-safe container and freeze solid, several hours or over night. If you're planning to freeze the loaves for longer than a day - they can be stored for up to 3 months - wrap them in foil before freezing.
When ready to bake the crisps, preheat the oven to 300°F.
Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves as thin as possible - 1/8" if possible - and place the slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes, flip them over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until crisp and deep golden brown. The edges should be curled slightly, and don't fret if they're still soft in the centre as the crackers will crisp significantly as they cool. Store in an airtight container or serve immediately.
Makes about 8 dozen crackers.
From Dinner with Julie