conquering the moon! (cheddar moon crackers)

making cheddar moon crackers
so this is what bakers feel like. gods. i’m surprised they don’t all walk around with a god complex. or a vampire complex–i definitely felt like i could run up a tree with kristen stewart on my back or at least stop a skidding car headed at her with my bare hands after this feat. i baked. and it worked!

sure i baked once before, but making a dough that my mom and aunt had personally walked me through four times felt like less of an accomplishment. this time, i did it all myself, the recipe search, the pep talk, burning myself, everything.

crumbly cracker dough
i’m not crazy. i purposely picked one of those things that bakers are always saying are so easy to make: crackers. let me tell you something, there was disaster lurking around every corner. this recipe made one batch, not two as indicated, and that was with me rolling out the dough super-thin. (and i do not recommend making these crackers very thin. the slightly thicker ones were flakier and tastier.) so they almost burned! it’s not like you can stick your head in the oven and watch them turn colour, the way you can watch hash browns…brown in a skillet.

cheddar moon crackers mutant moon cracker

and the actually cutting? sure, they make it look fun on tv, even getting little kids to participate. it didn’t go so smoothly in my kitchen. james kindly offered to get a crescent cookie cutter, because i fell so hard for the picture of the little yellow moon when i discovered this recipe, i had to make exactly the same shaped crackers. but of course the store with 30 different-sized snowman cutters didn’t have any crescent-shaped cutters, so i had to coax half-moons from a circle cutter, cutting one circle, then using the arc of that as the inner crescent and so on. in the end it worked out ok. except i was left with a few mangled crescents that looked more like guppies than moons. a few more and i would have had a batch of goldfish crackers on my hands.

but i did it! and my plan to actually put some of my cooking magazines and books to use has started. i plan to turn to them at least once a month to try to learn how to make something challenging–at least challenging to me. so expect another baking escapade from me in early may. for now, i’m calming my nerves with cheddar moons and red wine.

a wine and moon-filled night


(as it appeared in gourmet magazine, oct 2009)


(my notes: it did make about 6 dz. crackers but mine were small and thin and fit on 2 standard cookie sheets, or 1 batch. in other words, it seems i ended up with half the dough or i messed something up. possible. oh! and i used sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds and i would do it again. delicious with that slightly nut
ty flavour.)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (preferably orange)
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
1 large egg
1 tablespoon warm water
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

EQUIPMENT: a 2 3/4-inch crescent cookie cutter

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, poppy seeds, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cheese and 4 Tbsp cold water and mix with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. If mixture is still dry, add enough of remaining Tbsp cold water until mixture holds together to form a soft dough.

Turn out dough onto a work surface. With heel of your hand, smear dough 3 or 4 times in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, then divide dough in half. Press each half into a disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface (keep remaining disk chilled until ready to use) with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and cut out as many crescent moons as possible with cutter. Transfer to baking sheets, arranging them 1/2 inch apart. Gather scraps, then reroll and cut out.

Lightly beat egg with warm water in a small bowl for egg wash. Lightly brush crescents with egg wash and prick all over with a fork, then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks. Make more crackers with remaining dough (cool baking sheets between batches).