Crunchy crackers: Good as store-bought... maybe even better!

Watch out, Dr. Kracker – the King Arthur test bakers are on your trail.

You know about Dr. Kracker crackers, right? They’re these tasty ULTRA-crunchy crackers, full of seeds and fiber and whole grains. They come in a bunch of sizes, shapes, and flavors, with a few common attributes – they’re different, and delicious…

…and higher-priced than your usual box of Ritz.

Which means, to any baker worth his or her salt, that Dr. Kracker crackers are ripe for a homemade clone.

Sue Gray, a long-time fellow baker here at King Arthur, feels the same way I do about Dr. Kracker crackers: love ’em, but can’t afford ’em on a regular basis. So last year, Sue and her colleague Andrea decided to make a Dr. Kracker clone.

They worked on the cracker itself: too thick, too thin, and too hard eventually became just right. And the toppings: sunflower, flax, and sesame were the perfect combo.

Except that I went ahead and tried my own version, using our artisan bread topping (pictured above): flax, toasted sesame, black caraway, midget sunflower, poppy, and anise seeds. Plus golden flax seeds, just because I like their look and taste.

And, after customers commenting on the recipe decried the crackers’ “cardboardy” taste, I added sea salt to the topping.

As my MIL is wont to say, “NOW you’re cooking with gas!”

In other words, you’re on the right path. And, if you know and love Dr. Kracker crackers, and compare our Crunchy Crackers with Dr. Kracker’s, I think you’ll agree –

Dr. Kracker, we’re on your trail!

Dr. Kracker crackers are (barely) sweetened with organic barley malt syrup. Our recipe uses non-diastatic malt powder, a sweet derivative of roasted barley. It’s easy to use and, being non-liquid, doesn’t affect the crackers’ texture.

And here are two more of our favorite ingredients: golden flax seed on the left, and milled golden flax on the right.

If you’ve never had this golden version of traditional brown flax, give it a try. We did taste tests with groups of our customers, and as our marketing director, Tom Payne, reports, “Up to 87 percent of consumers rated our new flax products as ‘excellent’ in freshness, taste, texture, appearance, and bake-ability, compared with only 47 percent for their current flax.”

At last! Let’s go crackers.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

7/8 to 1 cup lukewarm water*
1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder or sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt

*Start with the lesser amount in summer, or when it’s hot/humid; the greater amount in winter, or in a cold/dry environment.

Use the flat beater to mix everything together…

Then switch to the dough hook, and knead until fairly smooth and quite stiff.

See how the dough above formed separate pieces? That means it’s a bit too stiff. I kneaded in another tablespoon of water.

Next, add the following:

2 tablespoons whole milled flax or whole flax seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds or whole flax seeds, preferably golden

I used 4 tablespoons flax seeds; but feel free to use whatever combo of sesame and flax you like.

Knead in the seeds and/or meal.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, or an 8-cup measure, as I’m doing here.

Cover the container, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s expanded a bit.

Divide the dough in half.

Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 14″ x 9″, a generous 1/8″ thick.

This is best done on parchment paper; you’ll see why in a minute.

As you roll, the dough will probably fight back; give it a 10-minute rest, then come back and roll some more. It may need two rest periods to allow you to roll it thin enough.

Now for the topping. Combine the following:

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, midget preferred*
1/4 cup sesame seeds*
1/4 cup whole flax seeds,* golden preferred

*Substitute 3/4 cup artisan bread topping + 1/4 cup whole flax seeds for the sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds, if desired; that’s what I did.

Spritz the dough with water.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the topping seeds.

Cover the dough completely.

Lay a piece of parchment on top, and press the seeds in with a rolling pin.

Turn the dough over, peel off the parchment…

…and repeat the process with another 1/4 cup of the topping seeds.

The dough is now covered with seeds on both sides. And with all the rolling, it’ll probably have stretched to about 15″ x 10″; though if not, don’t worry about it.

Prick the dough all over with a fork, to prevent the crackers from puffing up in the oven.

Sprinkle with some sea salt or flavored salt, if desired. Crush the sea salt between your fingers or grind it in a salt mill if it’s very coarse.

Cut the dough into rectangles, whatever size you like. Pick up the parchment, and lay it on a baking sheet.

Note: If you don’t have parchment, do your rolling on a rolling mat or on a very lightly floured or lightly greased work surface; and transfer the seeded, uncut crackers to a lightly greased baking sheet. Cut right on the sheet.

Pull the crackers apart just a bit; you don’t need to separate them completely.

Repeat the whole process with the remaining piece of dough.

Cover the crackers with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them rise for 30 to 45 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F; they’ll get just a bit puffy.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crackers are a medium brown.

You don’t want them to be very brown at all. Turn off the heat, wait 15 minutes, then open the oven door a couple of inches and let the crackers cool completely in the turned-off oven, checking occasionally to make sure they’re not getting too brown.

I think these are just right: rich, mahogany brown without any burned edges.

When they’re completely cool, break the crackers apart, if necessary.

Serve in all their plain-but-beautiful glory; or with cheese, or spreads, or dips; and accompanied by much positive feedback from the Dr. Kracker fans among your family and friends.

Store airtight (of course). They’ll keep well for weeks when stored properly.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Crunchy Crackers.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. kgmom

    It looks like Dr. Kracker may have gone out of business ;(. I definitely need to perfect this recipe now!

    Reply
  2. Carla Fox

    I love making crackers and this is a great! recipe. But sometimes my crackers come out leathery-tough. I’m wondering as I work the dough to get it to the right consistency if that is what makes it tough. Similiar to working pie dough too long? Tough pie crusts? The hard thing is that sometimes the dough is too wet and I need to knead in more flour. Could this be the cause of tough crackers? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Carla, kneading the dough longer will develop the gluten, so may lead to a tougher cracker. You might want to start with the smaller amount of water and gradually add more water rather than adding more flour. Barb@KAF

  3. Steven Myers

    great cracker recipes, thanks
    I am trying to monogram a cracker or place a printed decoration on it.
    My sugar labels look terrible and even applying them to the cracker, the baked dough absorbs the water, gets soggy.
    Ideally I’d like to do something that looks “branded” as if marked with a hot iron.
    I’ve thought about stencil and airbrush but thought you might have some experience/ideas
    Thanks in advance , Steven

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      There are a few things you could do: get a custom cutter made and stamp the crackers before you bake them, leaving the indentation in the dough. Etsy would be a great source for a custom made 3D cookie cutter. If you’re going for volume, this method might be most efficient. You could also try using a tiny stencil and brush, then painting each one before baking with the stencil, using cocoa blended with a bit of vodka to make a thinnish paste. A third option would be having a small metal stamp made, and literally branding each cracker. I’d try it both before and after baking to see which works better. Good luck and happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  4. Nibs

    Would it work to substitute with spelt flour?
    I think spelt flour would be a fine substitute for the whole wheat. ~Amy

    Reply
  5. Felecia

    I tried making these and they didn’t come out crunchy. Even after putting them back in the oven for another twenty minutes. Although maybe it was because I tried the cheddar pumpkin seed variation… Any suggestions?
    If the dough is not rolled thin enough, they will not become “crack”ers. Try rolling them thinner next time, Felecia. Elisabeth

    Reply
  6. margethoele

    Hi,
    I made these crackers this week-end for a party of 13 people, we loved the taste but our crackers were very tough, hard to bite into , the flavor great. I didn’t look at the pictures of the procedures, but I do know that they didn’t rise like yours did, my yeast is good (I’ve used it a lot lately) so I would appreciate any suggestion about them. I am an experienced baker, but we can all make mistakes. I love all your recipes on the website. Thank you.
    Marge
    Could there have been too much flour in the dough, Marge? Or were there any substitutions made? Drop us an email here to our Baker’s Hotline with your question, and one of our Bakers can help troubleshoot with you! ~Jessica

    Reply
  7. chinchillalover

    YUM!I made your recipe for traditional soda crackers gluten free and when it came time to fold over the dough i put pizza toppings on,I cut them into squares and baked them and they puffed up.Voila!Gluten free pizza rolls.

    Reply
  8. Meredith

    I was taught the whole flaxseeds are preety much undigestible because they are so hard. I always grind mine before using. I would love to know otherwise!

    They don’t need to be ground, Meredith, but then do need to be cracked open. Thorough chewing should take care of cracking most of the seeds when you leave them whole… PJH

    Reply
  9. Nay

    I just made these with adaptions because I live in Australia and can’t get your products. I used 1 Tbs of sugar and 1 Tbs of Maple Sugar and used fine celtic salt in the dough and then mixed a small amount in the seeds. The seeds I used were plain ol’ linseed, sesame, poppy and sunflower. Next time I’m going to add either hot paprika or cayenne to the dough for a bit of a kick. However, the resulting crackers are F-A-B! Very impressed and even Mr 5yo ate them happily and will be able to take them to preschool as a healthy snack!
    @ Cassandra, with sugar/diabetes an issue in my family I’d like to suggest that your husband do some more reading about his disease. Diabetics need to eat low GI (Glyceamic Index) rather than rush away from sugar. There is a great new book out here in Australia about this and apparently a low GI diet can help more with maintaining your diabetes. Hope this is of help.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe adaptations for all to see (and use!). Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply

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