For my four-part series of Downton Abbey recipes, I choose this recipe as an homage to the first two seasons of the fabulous PBS show. You’ll remember the plot begins in 1912, with the sinking of the Titanic and the loss of Downton’s first male heir.
This recipes comes from Heirloom Cooking by the Brass Sisters and is dated around the same time period. It is illustrative of one of the big changes in food over the past 100 years… the period before the appearance of little convenience foods we now take for granted. If Countess Grantham, during her doomed pregnancy in season one, felt a little ill from morning sickness, it’s not like her lady’s maid could run to Kroger for saltines. Mrs. Patmore would have to make crackers!
Now, you might think crackers would be tedious and time-consuming to make-but I was surprised at how simple these were. They have relatively few ingredients and, although they need a delicate hand at one point, they are well worth the care as they were seriously delicious-so much so that my daughter’s asked me to stop buying commercial crackers and just make these!
You can top them with anything, really-spices of your own choosing, sesame seeds, or any kind of cheese. I choose to top half of mine with shredded mozzarella and the other half with salt and pepper because they are easy and always on hand in my kitchen.
• 2 cups flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 4 tablespoons cold butter, diced
• 6 tablespoons milk
• ¼ cup butter, melted
• Various toppings
Place flour, salt, baking soda and butter in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to mix.
Add butter and pulse until crumbly. Add milk and pulse until dough holds together when pressed between your fingers.
Set the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Roll dough between two sheets of wax paper to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut into squares or rectangles using a butter knife dipped in flour.
Prick each cracker four or five times with a fork. Transfer carefully using a spatula to the cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until tops are pale brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!