Today’s throwback* is a testament to my two loves: baking and cheese.
Cheez-its are already a beautiful thing. They come in many varieties and for just a few dollars you can pick them up from the store and enjoy them immediately. You have to be a certain kind of crazy to want to bake your own. I happen to be just that.
Homebaked anything takes work. Homemade cheez-its are an immense labor of love. It involves grating and mixing and rolling and cutting, and probably costs much more too, but the added kick from the fresh cheese makes it all worthwhile. I recommend it.
I first made these crackers exactly two years ago, back when I wasn’t in school, back when life allowed for unnecessary challenges like baking one’s own crackers. Life isn’t allowing for much of that these days. Good thing I know a guy who knows a guy.
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 2 Tbsp ice water
- Coarse salt for sprinkling
- Mix together cheese, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Expect crumbliness.
- Slowly add flour and then the ice water. You can add a few more drops of water to help it come together but be careful not to add too much. No one wants wet dough.
- Form the dough into 2 discs and wrap them in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- While chilling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Over parchment paper or a silicone mat roll each disc down to 1/8 inch and using a pastry wheel cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
- Use a toothpick to punch a hole into the center of each square. You know, so they look like Cheez-its.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If you pull them out too soon and the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness, don't worry! Just put them back in the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
- Move crackers to a cooling rack.
- If you're having trouble separating and transferring the cracker dough onto the baking sheet, put crackers back into the fridge for a little while longer.