Here's the recipe that I used for my soda cracker pizza crust recipe. Note: I omitted the butter and used more vegetable shortening instead.
Plain Soda Crackers
[One Hundred Crackers]
From BERNARD CLAYTON'S BOOK OF SMALL BREADS by Bernard Clayton.
Published by Simon & Schuster, 1998
This is the kind of cracker that turned me into a crackerphile when I was seven years old, hardly tall enough to peek over the top of the wooden cracker barrel in Knox's Grocery. One day, Mr. Knox offered me the pick of a newly opened barrel. It was the beginning of an affair with cracker that has lasted more than three-quarters of a century. I am addicted. Waitresses rush the crackers to safety when I come in the door. My wife hides them I know not where. There are always cracker crumbs in my pockets.
This is fine basic recipe that can easily be used to make a number of other kinds of crackers with the addition of seeds, herbs, and spices. Cheese, too.
Malt syrup, among the ingredients below, adds a touch of sweetness, flavor, and color, but it does so in such a small way in this recipe that I have made it an option.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flours, approximately
1 package yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup hot water (120 - 130 degrees F.)
1/2 teaspoon malt syrup, if available
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons butter, melted, to brush
One baking sheet to fit the oven, lightly greased or lined with parchment paper
BY HAND OR MIXER - 6 minutes
Into the mixing or mixer bowl, measure 1 cup flour and the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the hot water, malt syrup, and shortening. Stir to blend and pour the liquid into the dry ingredients; stir vigorously to blend with a wooden spoon or with the mixer flat beater. Add the balance of flour to make a rough mass that can be worked under the hands or with a dough hook. If the dough is sticky, add liberal sprinkles of flour.
KNEADING - 4 minutes
If by hand, knead with a rhythmic push-turn-fold motion until the dough is soft and elastic. Add sprinkles of flour to control stickiness. If using a mixer, the dough will form a soft ball around the revolving dough hook and clean the sides of the bowl. Add flour if necessary to firm up the dough. Knead only until smooth, about 4 minutes.
BY PROCESSOR - 4 minutes
Attach the steel blade.
Measure 1 cup flour and the dry ingredients into the work bowl. Pulse. Combine the hot water, malt syrup, and shortening, as above. With the processor on, pour the liquid through the feed tube. Add remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough becomes a soft elastic mass that will ride on the blade and clean the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes.
KNEADING - 30 seconds
Process to knead the dough for 30 seconds.
REFRIGERATION - 1 hour-overnight
Drop the dough into buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to relax --- from 1 hour to overnight. The longer the better, up to 18 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 20 minutes before baking.
SHAPING - 10 minutes
With a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 18" x 6" and no thicker and 1/8". Fold the dough from the short ends, brushing off the excess flour, to make 3 layers. Roll again - with the rolling pin or through a pasta machine.
Prick the dough with the tines of a fork. Cut the dough along the edge of a ruler or yardstick with a pizza or cookie cutter into desired shapes.
Place the crackers close together on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt from 12" above the crackers to distribute salt evenly.
BAKING - 425 degrees F. 10-20 minutes
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until lightly browned and crisp, depending on the thickness of the crackers. Inspect the crackers several times during the bake period to make certain those on the outer edge of the baking sheet are not getting too brown. If so, shuffle them - out to in.
Brush the crackers with melted butter before removing them from the baking sheet to cool on a metal rack.