Post by Jean B.
I sometimes run across recipe that call for common crackers and
have had NO idea how large they were, which made it hard to
estimate that quantity of crumbs needed. I am flipping through a
book and just came across this, written by Ralph E. Flanders, the
then-Senator from Vermont: "The cracker called for in this recipe
is the old-fashioned 'common cracker' which in the old days filled
the cracker barrel at the country store. It goes under various
aliases such as St. Johnsbury cracker, Keene cracker, Montpelier
cracker, Hanover cracker, etc. It is the grandfather of the
regular oyster cracker, being however about three inches in diameter."
Source: The All American Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of Famous
Persons. Sponsored by American Legion Auxiliary Schuetz-Hermann
Unit 283, Lebanon, Illinois. Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth
Bros., 1954. Page 46.
Did a real quick web search and found this recipe, and some info at
Homemade New England Common Crackers
Adapted from a recipe by Kathleen Annino
Makes about 100 crackers
Kitchen Aid or other heavy-duty mixer
Paddle and hook attachments for mixer
Hand-cranked pasta machine
Ingredients for Yeast Starter
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105*F to 110*F)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup bread flour
Ingredients for Cracker Dough
1 cup yeast starter
1 to 1 1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) vegetable shortening or lard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant potato flakes
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
An additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour
1. Make the starter: Whisk together the yeast, water, brown sugar, lemon
juice and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the flour to make a batter.
2. Transfer batter to a large container with a snap-on cover and set out
at room temperature for 24 to 60 hours until it rises and forms large
bubbles. If left long enough it will deflate and separate. This is ok.
The gases formed may blow the cover off. Just put it back on.
3. Make the cracker dough: Put 1 cup of starter in a large bowl and
sprinkle with the 1 cup of flour. Begin incorporating the flour with a
fork and finish with your hands, kneading it in the bowl. Cover and let
rest for 1 hour.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together with a fork the shortening, salt,
potato flakes, brown sugar and baking soda. Mix in the water and lemon
juice, mixing thoroughly until very little water remains in the bowl.
5. Place the dough ball in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid or other heavy-duty
mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the shortening/water mixture and
knead it into the dough ball on medium speed.
6. Gradually add the additional 1 1/2 cups flour, switching to the dough
hook as the dough stiffens. Knead on medium speed with the hook for
about 5 minutes until you have a smooth ball. You may need to stop and
reposition the dough ball onto the hook.
7. Cut the dough ball into quarters and put three of them in a zip-lock
bag so they don¹t dry out.
8. With a rolling pin, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle 3/8-inch
thick. Put through rollers on pasta machine on widest setting, starting
with a short end.
9. Fold rolled dough into thirds like a business letter, pressing layers
together slightly with your fingers. Give the dough a quarter turn and
roll again. Repeat folding and rolling a total of six times. The final
dough sheet should be no thicker than 1/4 inch.
10. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment
11. Cut 1 1/2-inch rounds from the rolled dough and place on baking
sheet 1/4 inch apart. Repeat with remaining 3 quarters of dough. Reserve
excess dough scraps from cut-out in zip bag after each quarter is rolled
12. Form the four leftover dough scraps into a ball, roll out as with
12. Bake dough rounds for about 8 minutes, until they have risen, are
light brown and firm to the touch. Set first baking sheet aside while
you bake the second sheet. When it is finished baking, set second sheet
13. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F. Place the two sheets back
in oven and dry out the crackers for about 2 hours.
14. Store in an airtight container when completely cool. Re-crisp in a
400 degree F oven for 5 minutes if necessary.
Note: For traditional use, split the crackers in half with a small sharp
knife, spread with butter and toast under the broiler, then crumble into