I’m often surprised when I see which recipes are the most popular here at Free Eats. Some of the statistics are predictable such as our collective affinity for chocolate, but some of the savory recipes get their fair share of attention too. One of those recipes is the gluten-free cheddar crackers. Perhaps at some level we realize that we can’t always eat like we are obeying the wishes of a sweet-crazed five year old. Of course, my training as a pastry chef means that I do tend to favor breads and sweet treats, but as we head into 2013 I am hoping to build my archive of savory favorites.
Since the cheddar cracker recipe is so popular, I wanted to make it even more accessible to my blog readers. I decided to test the recipe without the addition of xanthan or guar gum. Although I will be the first to admit that xanthan gum (or guar gum) is essential to the success of many recipes (particularly breads), I do know that some people don’t always have it in their cupboards. There also happen to be a number of people who don’t tolerate eating gums for various reasons. So with that said, I decide to test the cheddar cracker recipe in a gum-free version, and weigh the results.
My final verdict is this: these crackers work extremely well without added gums. In fact, they work so well that I will prepare them this this way from here on out. So here is the updated recipe. (I have also updated the original post in case people have bookmarked it.)
Gluten-Free Cheddar Crackers
Notes: If you are corn-free be sure to grate your own cheese since pre-grated varieties often contain cornstarch (or other additives) to prevent clumping.
- 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (click here to see the one I use)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika or chili powder
- 2-4 tablespoons ice water
→ Place all ingredients except the ice water in the bowl of your food processor, fitted with a metal blade.
→ Process the ingredients for approximately 1 minute in short pulses.
→ Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water and then continue to process ingredients for another FULL 1-2 minutes (this time continuously) or until the dough begins to form a ball and “rides” the food processor blade. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of the ice water if needed (if the dough really never seems to come together, then you will need to add it).
→ When the dough does come together, scrape it out onto a lightly floured surface (rice flour works well) and knead for 15-20 seconds or until you have formed a cohesive ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, press the ball into a disk shape and chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
→ When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and working with 1/3 of the chilled dough at a time (leave the remainder wrapped and in the fridge), roll out on a lightly dusted counter-top. If your dough is crumbling apart when you try to roll it, you may need to work the dough or knead it for a minute or two to get it more pliable. Some cracks are unavoidable, so be patient and patch holes by pressing them closed with gentle fingertips.
→ Roll to 1/16″-1/8″ thickness and cut shapes with desired cutter. I prefer small, bite-sized shapes, but feel free to choose a bigger cutter (you will need a bit more baking time, so adjust accordingly).
→ Place cut shapes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (I use a very thin, metal spatula that has been dipped in rice flour). Sprinkle with some additional sea salt, and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until they have puffed up and are just beginning to turn golden brown on the edges.
→ Remove from oven and carefully slide the crackers off onto a clean, dry cutting board to cool, making sure that they are in a single layer and not piled up on each other.
→ Cool completely and store in an airtight container.