I was recently lucky enough to win a copy of Salty Snacks from Stephanie O'Dea - thank you! I made these crackers from my new cookbook for a recipe exchange at my church, and they were a big hit. They look and taste very similar to Wheat Thins, and they're a lot of fun to make! These will definitely be much easier if you have a pasta roller - theoretically you can roll these out with a rolling pin, but I have a feeling it would be pretty annoying. As it is, the dough looks too wet to be rolled with a pasta roller, but I found it actually worked really well and with minimal mess. My only complaint about these little crackers was that I didn't think the flavors were as strong as they could have been - next time, I would probably add half as much again of both the fennel and the orange zest. It could also be fun to change them up with different spices and/or types of zest.
Fennel and Orange Crackers (from Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims)
1/2 cup milk
6 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 T finely grated orange zest
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground with a spice or coffee grinder (measure, then grind)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
Melted butter, for brushing
Fancy salt (or kosher salt), for sprinkling
1. Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Whisk together the flours, orange zest, fennel, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
3. Add the egg to the milk-butter mixture, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until a cohesive dough forms, adding a bit more flour. The dough will be fairly moist, but will hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. Knead the dough briefly to make sure everything is well incorporated.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment (no need to grease).
5. Divide the dough into four or five portions. Working with one piece at a time, roll through a pasta machine until about 1/16-inch thick (on my Kitchen Aid pasta attachment, I used setting #3). Transfer to the cookie sheet, brush with butter, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cut into small crackers (vary the size as you like - I made mine about the size of Wheat Thins), and then prick each cracker once or twice with a fork. Separate the crackers so that there's a little bit of space between each cracker. Repeat until the baking sheet is filled. Bake 10-15 minutes, until the crackers are lightly browned, rotating the tray halfway through. Keep an eye on the crackers since they will cook at a different rate depending on their exact thickness and size.
6. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the crackers are baked.
7. Once cooled, the crackers can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.