It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a good cheese plate must be in want of some damn fine crackers.
It is a lesser known truth that Leslie Stowe's Raincoast crisps are the best crackers in the whole world. Or at least in the opinion of your esteemed author. While I may be unqualified in a number of fields - taxidermy, tax attorney - I am a connoisseur of fine cheese plates.
On one hand - you gotta do you. Stack that cheese plate with whatever makes you go 'Mmmm'. If you're entertaining, it's general practice to mix it up with both cheese texture (soft, firm, medium, hard), milks (goat, sheep, cow), and types (blue, sharp, soft, earthy). It's all about the variety.
Throw in some chacuterie, some nuts, and fruits (dried or fresh) and you got yourself a fine, fine plate of cheese.
But wait! The crackers! The carbohydrate factor is essential. Whether you're using pita, bagel chips, crackers, crostini, or bread, you need a scrumptious vehicle to get that cheesey goodness to your mouth.
My absolute favourite crackers are Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps. They're crunchy, they're the perfect thickness, they have the perfect flavour (many different flavours actually), and - bonus - they're Canadian. If you haven't had these and have access to them, TRY THEM IMMEDIATELY. They're not cheap (~$7.99 a box) but a box will serve several and your enjoyment will absolutely surpass $8.
I have had a slightly concerning love affair with these crisps for about 5 years now. I first tried them in Vancouver and was delighted to find them here in Saskatchewan. However, a few months a terrible thing happened. My grocery store stopped selling them. QUEL DOMMAGE!
My inner cheese-a-holic was devastated.
So as one does, I took to the internet and was thrilled to discover this life saving (or at least cheese plate saving) recipe on Dinner with Julie, a wonderful blog run by a fellow Canuck. I immediately got to work and her recipe is PERFECT. And BONUS: the hands on time is absolutely minimal. I don't normally post copy-cat recipes, but these crackers are too divine, and my grocery store is too short-sighted in their cracker selection.
I've had this recipe sitting and waiting since Thanksgiving (!!). I haven't been holding out on you - my camera's SD card was dying and I needed to get it repaired and free my photos from the past couple months. I had forgotten what was on there and when I realized what was I KNEW that this was the first recipe I had to share.
I've adapted this for my own flavour-flavs, and done it up two ways: pumpkin spice (it was the Thanksgiving remember?), walnut, and fig; and almond, black pepper, dark chocolate, and cranberry.
Making your own crisps/crackers makes you feel like champion. Even better - these freeze BEAUTIFULLY. I made two giant loaves, quartered them, and then cooked them as needed. Perfect for unexpected guests or lazy cocktails with friends when you want to prove what a rockstar of a hostess you are.
olive oil/butter/non-stick spray for your pans.
2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk. No buttermilk? No problem! Simply pour out a scant two cups of milk (2% preferably) and add 1 tbsp of vinegar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes and then use at will.
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey (it tastes more authentic with honey but I've substituted additional sugar for times when I haven't had honey)
1/4 cup of flax seeds
for pumpkin spice/walnut/date:
1/2 a cup of toasted walnuts - you can use chopped or whole as they'll get cut up in the slicing process if they're not already
1/3 cup of roughly chopped figs or dates
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a dash of allspice
for the almond, dark chocolate, cranberry and black pepper:
1/2 a cup of toasted almonds
1/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper - I also like to crack a little more on top of the loaf before it bakes.
other things you will need:
a mixing bowl and spoon
two loaf pans OR if you're fancy and have a mini-loaf pan or something that looks like this- use them!
a baking tray or two
a very sharp knife/mandoline
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- Stir together your flour, baking soda, salt, and seasoning (pumpkin spice blend or black pepper in this case).
- Add your buttermilk and honey and sugar and stir to combine.
- Fold in your 'fun mix' - nuts, fruit, chocolate, etc.
- Distribute your batter into your greased mini/loaf pans and pop them into the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until they look golden and feel cooked to the touch.
- Allow them to cool - I KNOW, it's agony, and once they're completely cooled either freeze until needed, or get ready for some knife-action.
- The cooler - or colder - these are, the easier they are to slice nicely. If I'm using a frozen batch I don't thaw them - I cut them straight from frozen. If you don't have time for that, pop them in the fridge or freezer for as long as you can, and then slice them thinly - approximately 1/4 inch thick. Having made these a few times, I've found that carefully slicing them with a mandoline can be much easier (only when they're frozen).
- Preheat your oven to 300 and when ready bake for 7-8 minutes, and flip and bake for another 3-4. The original recipe indicated they should bake for 15 prior to flipping, but that's too long for my oven. You want to bake them until they're golden starting to crisp.
- Cool, serve, and make yourself a tiny cheese sandwich. You've earned it.