A Ritz Cracker Clone
Crackers are one of those seemingly very simple pieces of baked wheat used as a vehicle for cheeses, meats, and other spreads; hardly the hero of any party. However, take away the crackers and you’re left with a bunch of flimsy cheese and oily meat. And forget about any spreads unless you’re willing to lick it off your fingers. So although crackers are not necessarily the hero, they are a foundation and therefore necessary.
One cracker I’ve loved since childhood is that flaky, buttery Ritz cracker. A perfect balance of salty and sweet, though many may argue, myself included, that they tend to be rather greasy, especially for a cracker that boasts about being baked, not fried. With New Year’s Eve tomorrow, I wanted to find a perfect snacking cracker that goes well with virtually any topping, sweet or salty. So I’ve chosen to clone the Ritz cracker.
Having never made a cracker before, I started with the most logical place — the ingredient panel on the side of the Ritz box. Seemed pretty straightforward, or at least I thought. After having attempted a homemade version about 6 or 7 times, I finally came up with a version I feel is closest to the store-bought Ritz. I can tell you my single biggest mistake throughout the trials was treating the dough as a pie pastry, and doing so, I kept ending up with pie crust crackers that were actually quite gross. After minimizing the amount of butter, I started to see some progress. The next obstacle was the flaky texture. Because most domestic kitchens don’t have the raising agents: ammonium hydrogen carbonate, calcium phosphates, sodium hydrogen carbonate, and potassium hydrogen carbonate, on hand, I had to improvise. You’ll notice on the Ritz box, a warning that it may contain egg, milk, and sesame. That gave me the idea to add an egg to the dough to aid in the leavening process. It ended up helping out the flavor as well.
I didn’t use a scalloped cookie cutter because, honestly, I don’t own one. Plus, it’s a lot quicker to use a pizza cutter to make square crackers. The texture isn’t perfect, but that’s what well-paid food scientists are for. I’m sure anyone looking for a purer, homemade version of a Ritz cracker will be happy with these. And any guest eating them, will be amazed that you’ve successfully cloned a high-additive/preservative commercial cracker.
Ritz Crackers Clone
- 2 cups flour + extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 60g unsalted butter, chilled
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp malt extract
- Egg wash (1 egg + 2 tbsp water)
*Note: To achieve the closest possible texture, temperatures throughout this recipe is paramount.
Preheat oven to 230°C, convection fan setting.
1. In a food processor, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. Add the butter and blitz into the dry ingredients.
3. Mix together the egg, water, and malt extract. Add to dry ingredients and combine until soft dough forms.
7. Brush with egg wash and very very lightly sprinkle with salt. Bake for 2 minutes, then down heat down to 150°C and continue baking for 12-15 minutes until golden.
8. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.