Wannabe Ritz Crackers

Once a year for American Thanksgiving (yes we’re Canadian but we got some big NFL fans over here 😉) we usually go all out and I spend days prepping food to keep everyone’s tummies full while beer and football goes down for the entire day. I like to make as much from scratch as I possibly can and this year I figured I would have my go at homemade crackers. Now they aren’t exactly the same as Ritz crackers but they were definitely close enough and quite simple to make!  Like most things done from scratch they are a bit time consuming but you get a lot out of this recipe which makes it worth your while.

A quick side note, to help hold the perfect roundness of the crackers, I would recommend rolling your dough on parchment paper so you don’t have to lift them which causes some to become oval instead of round. eliminating this should help them stay round if your anal about such things like I am. I didn’t do that for the first batch of made hence the not so round crackers in the photo. You learn as you go right? 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt 
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbs oil 
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tsp baking powder 
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
  2. Using a pastry cutter or a food processor cut in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Pour in the oil and cut in until well blended. 
  4. Slowly pour in the milk and water, using a wooden spoon or a food processor, stir in until a ball forms and the dough can be handled.  
  5. Thightly wrap in saran wrap and allow to rest for 15 -20 minutes. You can preheat your oven to 400° at this point.
  6. So no is where I would recommend using  floured piece of parchment paper to roll your dough and cut out your crackers on. This is optional.                        Flour parchment paper or your workspace and begin rolling out pieces of dough until they are almost paper thin. (This is very important, if they are too thick they will be more like cracker/biscuits and they aren’t too tasty either) Once they are rolled out and cut using whatever cutters you have available to you, place them on a baking pan (I found stoneware really worked the best if you have it) and make sure you poke lots of little holes all over the crackers. (If you skip this step they will puff up like balloons!) Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are turning golden brown.
  7. Once removed from the oven brush immediately with butter and sprinkle sea salt on the wet butter. if the butter dries the salt won’t stick so you have to be fast like a cat! 
  8. Continue until all the dough is gone 😊 

    This recipe makes close to what you would get in a box of ritz crackers.

    Fluffy White Sandwich Bread  

    • 5-6 cups all purpose white flour
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 cups water 
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
    • 1 egg 
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    1. In a large bowl mix 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup milk together and bring temperature to 105°. Stir in sugar and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. 
    2. Meanwhile heat the remaining water and milk with butter to 105°. 
    3. Once your time is up mix the remaining liquids into the yeast along with 1 cup of flour and egg.
    4. Add salt and flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and is slightly sticky.
    5. Flour a work space and dump the dough out and begin kneading . 
    6. Knead dough for 8-10 minutes.
    7. Grease a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a piece of oiled saran wrap and place in a warm, draft free place. I prefer to bring a pot of water to a boil and place it in the bottom of my oven and the bowl on a rack above the pot. 
    8. Once the dough has doubled in size, appx 45 minutes to an hour, punch the dough down and divide in 2 even pieces. 
    9. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece into rectangles. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and pinch the seems together.
    10. Heavily grease your bread pans and place the loaf seem side down and cover with a piece of oiled saran wrap. 
    11. Same as the first rise I would recommend the oven method with a pot of hot water underneath buy any warm draft free place will do for the second rise. Allow the dough to double in size which should take appx 45 minutes to an hour.
    12. Remove pans from the oven if you were using it to rise the dough and preheat to 350°.
    13. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the tops are golden and they sound hollow when you tap on them. 
    14. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with butter.
    15. After about 10 minutes I would start loosening the bread off the side of the pan and pop the loaves out. Allow to cool completely before storing in bags. 

        Garlic Parmesan Italian Bread

        This bread is loaded with Garlic! It smells absolutely heavenly coming out of the oven!

        Tonight my main village man is making me his mind blowing bolognese and gnocchi so I figured nothing better than fresh garlic and parm infused Italian bread to dip in it..then again why not add all these fresh herbs I have lying around too?

        • 1/2 cup warm water
        • 1/2 cup warm cream
        • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
        • 1 tsp sugar
        • 1 tbs butter
        • 1 tbs olive oil
        • 6 cloves of garlic finely minced or mashed
        • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
        • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
        • 2 tbs fresh parsley, minced
        • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
        • 1/2 cup mozzarella, finely grated
        • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
        • 2 1/2 – 3 cups flour
        1. Warm water, milk and sugar to 105° then add yeast and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
        2. Meanwhile, mince or mashed garlic with a mortar and pestal. Mix the thyme, garlic, butter and oil together and bring to a low simmer for 1 minute just to pull the flavors out into the butter and oil. Remove  from heat and set aside and let cool.
        3. Mix the cheese and chopped parsley together. The  leaves will wilt too much if heated so don’t add it into the butter and oil.
        4. Once the yeast is ready mix half a cup of flour into the yeast, then pour in the garlic herb butter/oil mix and cheese and the parsley mix into the yeast and flour.
        5. Continue adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and can be handled. Depending on your altitude the amount of flour will vary.
        6. Oil your hands to keep the dough from sticking to you and dump dough onto a floured surface.
        7. Knead for 8-10 minutes then place the dough in a well greased bowl and cover with a piece of oiled saran wrap.
        8. Let rise for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size.
        9. Dump dough onto a floured workspace again and roll out to a rectangle. Roll up lengthwise and pinch the seems together.
        10. Flour a baking sheet and place dough seem side down.
        11. Slice vertical slices on the top of the loaf, cover with oiled saran wrap and place in a warm draft free place. I like to bring a pot of water to  boil and place it under the pan to create a warm humidity environment for the yeast to do its work.
        12. Preheat oven to 375° and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is golden brown and hallow when you tap on it.
        13. Place on a cooling rack and allow bread to cool off completely.

        Beautiful Buttermilk Biscuits 

        Being in Canada and all it is difficult to find anywhere that serves fresh buttermilk biscuits or biscuits of any kind for that matter. A problem that is easily solved by quickly and easily whipping up a batch at home!

        • 2 cups all purpose flour
        • 1 cup Buttermilk<- click here for a DIY recipe
        • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder 
        • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt 
        • 2 tbs cold lard 
        1. Sift together all the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
        2. Drop the 2 tbs of cold lard into the flour mix and with a pastry cutter, fork or your good old trusty fingers begin breaking the lard up into the flour until it is pea sized.
        3. Pour in the buttermilk and stir well with a wooden spoon. If your mix is too dry add more buttermilk 1 tbs at a time, if it is too wet add more flour 1 tbs at a time.
        4. Once it is tacky and can be handled dump the dough onto a floured workspace and knead the dough 4 to 5 times.
        5. Add a little more flour to your workspace and form the dough into a log and cut dough into 5 even pieces.
        6. Round the dough into balls and bake in your preheated oven in a small greased cast iron pan or a small greased baking dish for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.
        7. Remove from heat and immediately brush with butter. Lots of butter, you want it pouring down the sides.
        8. Cover with a clean towel and allow to cool.

        You can easily double this recipe if 5 biscuits aren’t enough.

        Extra Flaky Vodka Pie Crust

        I’m a pretty big fan of pies, mostly because of the crust. My total week spot is flaky pie crust. So we all know about lard and how it makes a flaky crust but what if you could add to it for the ultimate flake? Well it turns out if your looking for that ultimate flake, a combination of lard and vodka is what you really want to use. You only need a mini bottle of good quality vodka to make this light and flaky pie crust.

        Makes 1 full pie crust

        • 2 cups + 1/2 cup for rolling, all purpose unbleached flour 
        • 1/2 ice cold water
        •  1/2 cup + 2 tbs butter, cold & cubed
        • 2 tbs lard, cold & cubed
        • 1 tbs good quality vodka ( grey goose is a good option and the minis are affordable )
        • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
        1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk flour & salt together.
        2. Using a fork or a food processor blend flour, salt, butter and lard together until it has the appearance of fine bread crumbs.
        3. Pour in vodka and mix well. Larger clumps should start to form in the mix.
        4. Pour in the cold water and mix until a ball has formed.
        5. Firmly wrap in saran wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
        6. Separate dough into 2 8 oz pieces. On a floured surface roll out to fit the pie dish.
        7. Fill crust and bake according to pie directions.

        Tangzhong Roux 

        Tangzhong is basically a water roux that makes your bread nice and soft as well as helps your bread feel fresher longer. It is obviously an Asian technique that seems to be popping up in lots of recipes in the western side of the world. It is also used in Yeast Donuts.

        • 1 cup water
        • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
        1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the water to a light boil.
        2. Add flour and whisk until smooth.
        3. Continue whisking until the roux has become thick and your whisk leaves a line in the pot that does not close together.
        4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

        Keeps for 2 – 3 days in the fridge

        Fresh & Fluffy Yeast Donuts

        Almost everyone loves a good fresh donut. Surprisingly they are not that difficult to make either! (Don’t be intimated by how long the recipe is, it takes less time than it seems ) I had to wait to post this so The Dude could taste and judge. Considering there wasn’t much left on the platter before bed last night I am thinking I nailed it.

        A little side note about yeast donuts. When they are deep-fried they develop air pockets which makes these donuts perfect for filling with puddings and jellies. If you’re looking for donuts that you used to get at the carnival those are Cake Donuts and are equally delicious!

        • 2 – 2 & 1/2 (+ extra for kneading) cups all purpose flour the amount of flour needed varies depending on your altitude.
        • 3 & 1/2 tbs salted butter
        • 3 tbs sugar
        • 1/4 tsp salt
        • 1/4 cup warm water, between 105°-110°
        • 1/4 cup milk, boiled and cooled
        • 2 tsp yeast
        • 1 egg, room temp
        • 1/2 cup Tangzhong Roux <- click for recipe
        • 4 cups canola oil for frying
        • Oil for greasing hands
        1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine sugar and warm water and sprinkle all the yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes. If yeast doesn’t not foam your water was either too hot, too cold or your yeast is dead and you will need to buy some more.
        2. While the yeast rises melt and cool the butter.
        3. Once your 10 minutes is up and the yeast has foamed up you can add 1 cup of flour, salt, milk, Tangzhong, egg and melted butter. With a wooden spoon or dough hooks and a stand mixer, mix the first addition of ingredients together.
        4. Continue adding flour 1/2 cups at a time until the dough pulls from the sides.
        5. Optional but recommended step: Heat oven to 200°, once the oven has reached that temperature turn it off. A nice warm oven will help your yeast rises. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and place in the warm oven. The pot of steaming water will steam up the oven. Humidity also does wonders for rising yeast.
        6. Flour a work space, oil your hands and remove the ball of dough. Knead for 8 minutes, adding flour as needed. Once the dough no longer sticks to your hands and the counter stop adding flour. Continue kneading until 8 mins is up.
        7. Place the dough in  a large oiled bowl, cover saran wrap in oil on one side and cover the bowl ( oil side facing the dough ) place bowl in the warm oven. Let rise for 1 – 1 & 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. If you take the optional step (#5) it will probably take about 45 to an hour.
        8. Once time is up, flour your workspace again, punch down the dough. Remove it from the bowl and roll it out to 1/3 inch thick.
        9. If you don’t have a donut cutter you can use a wide mouthed glass. If you want to make donuts holes and ring donuts use a shot glass to cut out the centre.
        10. Begin heating oil either in your deep fryer or in a Dutch Oven and a candy thermometer.
        11. On a floured surface, place donuts and over with saran wrap to prevent them from drying out ( You can also freeze some at this point if the batch is too large ) let them sit for 20-30 minutes.
        12. When the oil is hot and the time is up, in small batches begin deep-frying the donuts, turning after 40 – 35 seconds. Until the oil strains off a bit the donuts will appear darker at first. As they dry off the color will lighten up. Using tongs flip donuts and cook for another 40 – 35 seconds. Your going for a golden brown color.                        The donut holes will take much less time because they are much smaller. Mine took about 15 seconds per side.
        13. Place cooked donuts on a wired rack and allow to cool.
        14. For flavoring the donuts you will have to work in batches as you don’t want them too hot where you’ll burn yourself but still hot enough that the icing, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar will stick. See below for coating ingredients.

        Donuts will be good for 1 day, I doubt they would last past a day anyways!

        Glaze

        • 1 cup icing sugar
        • 2 tbs milk
        • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

        In a large bowl mix everything together and dip half of warm donut. Let sit on a wired rack until hardened or eaten.

        Cinnamon Sugar

        • 1/3 cup white sugar
        • 1 tbs cinnamon
        • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

        In a large bowl toss both sides of warm donuts in cinnamon sugar. Place on plate or in container or eat.

        Sugar Powder

        • 1 cup powdered sugar

        Pour sugar in a medium sized bowl and toss warm donuts on both sides. Place on a plate, container or eat.