Author Notes: I wasn’t into cheese until I was 20, when I met my British husband. We still joke about how I finally became French after a meal at his friends. After a few drinks and some great food, they presented us with a box of ripe and smelly camembert, crackers and a bottle of port. I was first surprised by the fact British serve cheese after dessert (cheese is usually served before dessert in France). Once accustomed to this idea, I was struck by how good cheese tastes with port. I have become totally addicted to cheese since that moment.
I now love any cheese but have a preference for stronger ones. What also struck me is how different a culinary experience it is when eaten with crackers. I do like a nice piece of goat’s cheese with a slice of sourdough or walnut bread but there is something really enjoyable about cheese and crackers. The combination isn’t overbearing and gives cheese a chance to stand out on its own. The crunchiness of a crackers balances well with the softer texture of a blue cheese or a camembert to name a few. I think on that point the French could learn a thing or two from their English neighbours.
I’ve been really into making my edible gifts this Christmas and found that crackers make wonderful ones. They can be made in advance since they keep well in an airtight container. They can also be cut into different shapes and customized to the receiver’s tastes and dietary requirements. A selection of homemade crackers makes a very special gifts to take to a dinner party. Wrapped in a pretty package with a handwritten label they will put a smile on the lucky recipient.
This recipe is really versatile. Feel free to try out new flavours and even flours. I particularly like crackers flavoured with rosemary and sea salt, charcoal (it tastes great with goat’s cheese), olive oil or walnut. The list is endless. Stored in an airtight container or jar they will keep for about 10 days. —Elodie Bellegarde
Makes: about 2 dozen crackers
cups whole wheat flour
ounces cold butter, cubed
teaspoon sea salt
tablespoons cold water
tablespoons fennel seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350F/Gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Put all the ingredients but the water in a clean bowl. With your hands, combine until crumbs form. Add some of the water, a little at a time to form a ball. If the dough is too dry add more water, if too wet add more flour. Don’t overwork the dough or the crackers will be tough once cooked.
- Roll the dough on a clean, floured surface to a 1/2 centimeter thickness. Cut the dough into circles, diamonds or any shape you like and place the pieces onto the prepared tray leaving some space between each cracker.
- Bake for 15 to 20 until the crackers turn a slight shade of brown. Leave to cool and transfer into an airtight container.
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