By Gail Robinson
I have always loved to bake. Always. Family lore is that I made my own birthday cake at three years old. The black and white photographs documenting the event show a pretty decent-looking, two-layer cake with jelly beans in a swath across the top. With this life-long love of baking, it’s astounding to me that it never occurred to me to try baking crackers until this past year. Crackers come sealed in waxy bags and then packaged into neat and tidy boxes. You buy them at the store. Right? Nobody I know bakes crackers at home.
Well. About a year ago, I made my first batch of crackers using a recipe from my favorite recipe blog, Oh She Glows. And then I was hooked. Store-bought crackers don’t hold a candle to crackers you make at home. Duh. And here’s the surprise: it’s really easy to make crackers!
So with this recipe, I’m launching my next focus, which is, you guessed it—Crackers! And I’m also wrapping up the previous focus on sweet potatoes. So this first cracker recipe is for super duper delicious sweet potato crackers. Very few ingredients. No preservatives. No palm oil. And sweet potatoes! When you have a hankering for a salty, crunchy snack, this is a pretty darn healthy option. And if you have kids, it’s a fun rainy-day project for them to help with. You’ll see from my photos that I happen to have a cute little fish-shaped cookie cutter. Where that came from, I’m not really sure, but my adorable crackers look like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers returned from some kind of alien abduction.
I found this recipe at the North Carolina Sweet Potatoes Commission Website. Yes, there really is such a thing. I’ve made a few adaptations, but thanks, North Carolina, for dreaming up such a divine treat!
Sweet Potato Super Duper Crackers
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato, pureed (1-2 medium sweet potatoes)
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- Optional toppings to sprinkle on before cooking: salt, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds….or whatever sounds good to you
- To cook the sweet potatoes, you can peel, cube, and boil them for about 10-15 minutes until nicely tender or you can roast the whole potatoes at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour until very tender. I like to roast them as I think it brings out the best flavor, but if you’re crunched for time, boiling works great, too!
- Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, let them cool and then puree in a blender or food processor. If you’re having a hard time getting them to completely puree, add a little milk (not more than a couple of tablespoons, though).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until there are no lumps.
- Cut the butter into small chunks and then work the butter into the flour mixture (you can use your hands, a pastry cutter, a fork, two knives that you criss-cross around the bowl, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer).
- Add the sweet potato and mix until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a minute or two.
- Divide the dough into four even pieces and roll into balls, then flatten the balls into disks with your hands. At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic and put in the fridge for a while or you can forge ahead and get rolling.
- Lightly flour a surface and roll out one disk until very, very thin. I find this dough surprisingly easy to work with—just make sure you pick the dough up periodically as you’re rolling to ensure it’s not sticking to the surface. Skim your surface with flour again if it’s starting to stick. You want the dough as uniformly thin as possible—think cracker thin.
- Use small cookie cutters or some round object to cut out shapes. You can also take a sharp knife or a pizza cutter and simply cut the dough into squares, rectangles, or diamonds. It’s fun to have the cute cracker shapes, but the squares are way less time consuming. And it’s all delicious!
- Place shapes onto cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt, sesame seeds, a small dash of cayenne pepper, or other toppings that sound good to you.
- Bake for about ten minutes until golden on the bottom, then flip over and bake another 10-12 minutes. You want the crackers to be golden brown and pretty close to being crispy. They’ll continue to crisp up as they cool.