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Cheesy Slice-and-Bake Crackers

Cheesy Slice-and-Bake Crackers


Think of these like cheese and crackers all rolled into one snappy, tangy, toasty snack. Double the recipe and keep a log stashed in your freezer for when you need a quick dinner party appetizer or potluck dish. Just thaw, slice, and bake.

Equipment

Steps

  1. Grate 6 oz. cheddar on the medium holes of a box grater, letting shreds fall into a medium bowl.

  2. Slice a small handful of chives very thinly and add to bowl with cheese. Add 1¼ cups flour, 1½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. sugar, and a pinch of cayenne. Toss mixture with your hands until cheese is coated in flour and ingredients are evenly distributed.

  3. Cut 6 oz. cream cheese into ½" pieces and add to bowl with flour mixture. Using your hands, quickly smash pieces into flour. Work until cream cheese disappears into flour and only a few dry spots remain.

  4. Knead dough in bowl 2–3 times to bring it together. Transfer dough to a 1-gal. resealable plastic bag. Seal bag, pressing out air.

  5. Press dough to bottom of bag, forcing it into the crease with the back of a knife so you have a tight log that spans width of bag. Roll log over work surface a couple of times to smooth sides into an evenly round shape.

  6. Freeze dough until very firm but not yet frozen, 15–20 minutes. Meanwhile, place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  7. Cut open bag with your knife. Take out dough. Carefully sprinkle 3 Tbsp. poppy seeds across work surface (do this gently so they don’t fly everywhere). Roll dough over poppy seeds, pressing into dough, until log is completely and evenly coated. Discard any poppy seeds that don’t stick.

  8. Quickly and confidently slice dough into thin rounds with a sharp knife, aiming for even slices between ¼"–⅛". Rotate log every few slices to keep bottom side from flattening out. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1" apart (crackers won’t spread as they bake).

  9. Bake crackers, rotating sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until tops and edges are golden, 25–30 minutes. Crackers will crisp as they cool, so let cool completely on baking sheet.

Related Video

Slice-and-Bake Crackers

Reviews SectionGreat flavor! I kept the recipe as-is with the addition of 2 Tb water per other reviewers and they came together nicely. After freezing the dough 20 minutes it was still a little squishy so my crackers were more ovular than the nice round ones in the image. Question: if these aren’t all consumed right away, how would you store them? I fear leaving them in a sealed bag will cause them to lose their crispness. Anyone?yagurlcarlyTucson, Arizona07/20/20These crackers were great! Would recommend trying to slice them closer to 1/8" than 1/4", bc if they're too thick they get really hard and weird to chew.AnonymousColumbia, SC01/10/20I don't understand why people are modifying this recipe. It's perfect just the way it is. I've made it multiple times and it comes out perfect every time. Everyone loves these crackers.CluckerConnecticut 01/05/20Tremendous crackers. Uped the amount of cream cheese. Need to mix until moist then compress.dharper99Cleveland 11/24/19If you slice these 1/8 of an inch, they fall apart. If you slice them as thick as shown in the video, they don’t get crispy and are chewy, instead. If they get brown, the cheese burns and they taste terrible.AnonymousMinnesota11/21/19What i did was i used 2 tablespoons of water and 8 oz of cream cheese then i mixed it up a little then popped it into the microwave for 40 seconds and it was super easy to mix then i just followed the rest of the steps and it was perfect.I think with a few modifications, this recipe could be really good. Like many other reviewers, my main issue was the dough being way too dry and crumbly. I ended up using an entire bar of cream cheese, and understandably, the dough did not firm up very much in the freezer and the crackers were really dense and too cream cheesy. Maybe 1-2 tbsp of water to the dough would help it stick together...? I would suggest cutting these crackers very thin, and definitely not 1/4". Aim for 1/8" or even thinner if you want a thin cracker.heather eatsMontreal07/03/19I googled freezer options for meals and got this, nowhere does it say how to freeze or cook after frozen. Sounds good but not what I was looking for.AnonymousNicaragua02/08/19exactly how much is a "pinch" of cayenne? i'm tempted to estimate high.hollis5Vero Beach, FL01/26/19They turned out very well, but I initially had the same problem of the dough being too crumbly. I ended up using the full 8oz bar of cream cheese (rather than the 6oz the recipe called for) and the dough stuck together and worked great.pjhollen4791Colorado01/06/19I want to try this, but wonder why it is done by hand and not it a food processor, which would quickly blend the ingredients. Also worried about the comments that it's dry. Could that be remedied by using a bit less flour? I'm sure some have tried that by now. Unless I hear otherwise, I will try it in the FP.I would like to make this recipe again but the dough is so crumbly and doesn’t slice well. I ended up having to press the crumbs together and after baking, they looked like and had the texture of cookies. I wanted them them to be crispy. Any suggestions on how to improve the dough texture?AnonymousLong Beach, CA12/28/17Really tasty. My wife is gluten free and have have made them successfully with gluten-free flour. However, the rolled dough is usually dry and hard to cut, even after setting up in the freezer. Any suggestion on changing the recipe to make it stick together a bit more?

Basil Slice and Bake Crackers

Homemade crackers with fresh Parmesan cheese, pesto, pine nuts and basil. Perfect pairing for a glass of wine!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¾ cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Softened (light Is Fine)
  • ¼ cups Pesto
  • 1 cup Pine Nuts Or Chopped Walnuts
  • ⅓ cups Chopped Basil, Lightly Packed

Preparation

In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, peppers and salt. Stir in cheese. Set aside.

Cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add pesto and mix until combined. Add flour mixture in batches and mix until incorporated. Stir in nuts and chopped basil.

Transfer half of the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic around the dough and roll on a flat surface until it is a cylinder, about 1 ½ inch diameter. Repeat with remaining section of dough. Place the plastic wrapped dough in a Ziploc bag and chill until ready to bake. You can freeze if not using right away.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Slice the logs into ¼ inch crackers and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until slightly gold around the edges. Cool on a rack. Makes about 6 dozen.


Recipe Summary

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 pound sharp cheddar, grated (3 cups)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

In a food processor, pulse together butter, cheese, egg, mustard, salt, and red-pepper flakes until smooth. Add flour and pulse until combined. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 4 hours (or up to 1 day).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Slice dough into 1/4-inch rounds and arrange, 1 inch apart, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool completely on racks before serving.


Easy Cheesy Crackers

Only 3 simple ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter , cold (cut into tablespoon size chunks)
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese , grated (the sharper the cheese, the cheesier the crackers)

Instructions

Combine all three ingredients in a food processor and blend. The mixture will eventually turn into one big ball chasing itself around the bowl. Be patient because it can take a few minutes.

Roll the ball into a log about 1 ½” in diameter. At this point you could refrigerate the dough until later.


Southern cooks make slice-and-bake cheese wafers for all occasions

Southern slice-and-bake cheese wafers Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe

Wildly popular cheese wafers are savory rounds that many Southern cooks make for all occasions. Almost every recipe is the same — grated sharp cheese (I like cheddar here), butter, flour, salt, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. The wafers have no leavening, and no eggs or sugar. This version is from a 1950 spiral-bound book called “Charleston Receipts,” where it appeared in the “canapes” section, along with recipes for cheese balls, shrimp paste, and benne (sesame) seed “cocktailers,” a kind of biscuit.

In this updated method for cheese wafers, you make the dough in a food processor, turn big clumps onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and with your hands, shape a compact log. Then fold over the plastic wrap and press a ruler against one long side of the wrap to form a tight roll.

The roll sits overnight in the fridge. Here’s a baker’s trick to keep the log from forming a flat side: With scissors, make a lengthwise cut along a cardboard paper towel roll (the piece left after you use up the paper). Set the log in the cardboard and refrigerate. When you go to slice the log, use a flat-bladed knife and keep turning the roll after each slice to make perfect circles. They bake into firm, slightly golden, rounds that are spicy, cheesy, crisp, and addictive.

Southern slice-and-bake cheese wafers

½cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
¼teaspoon cayenne pepper
cups flour
½teaspoon salt

1. In a food processor, work the butter, cheddar, and cayenne until smooth. Add the flour and salt and work the mixture until it is crumbly. Then let the motor run until the dough forms large clumps it should not come together in a ball.

2. Lay a 14-inch sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Turn the clumps onto the wrap in a rough log shape. With your hands, shape the dough into a log that is 12 inches long and 1½ inches deep it will not be even. Fold over the wrap and use a ruler to press against the long side to make the log even. Or roll the log under your palms to make it even. Wrap up the dough in the plastic wrap so it’s covered tightly. Cut a paper towel cardboard lengthwise on one side. Set the dough in the cardboard.

3. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or until the log is firm. It will stay in the fridge for several days wrapped tightly.

4. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Slice the log into ¼-inch rounds, turning the log after each slice to make perfect rounds. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheet.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the wafers are starting to brown at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Cheddar-Parmesan Crackers

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 25 M
  • 2 H, 40 M
  • Makes 36 crackers

Ingredients US Metric

  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, place all the ingredients except the butter and water. Pulse 5 times. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter pieces are the size of BB’s. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough holds together. If the dough is still crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll the dough into a log 9 or 10 inches long and square off the ends. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (You can freeze the dough for up to 1 month. You may want to cut the log in half or in thirds prior to freezing if you think you’ll want to defrost a small amount at a time.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden color. Turn the crackers and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until they are golden around the edges.

Cool the crackers on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Megan M.

These buttery little crackers are delicious and really easy to make. Who knew that making your own crackers could be so easy and taste so good? You basically dump all the ingredients into a food processor and then bring it together with butter and water like pie dough. No rolling or fussing with the dough—just form it into a log and then it’s simply a slice-and-bake process. So easy!

These crackers have a crispness around the edges as well as a bit of a chewy texture in the middle from the Parmesan. They’re tangy from the Cheddar, salty from the Parmesan and spicy from the cayenne. It’s an addictive snack that would be a great addition to any party.

Tracey G.

These crackers came together so easily. I shredded the cheeses and mixed the dough using my food processor. Be sure to use the best-quality cheeses you can, because they really are the star of the show. I often make the Parmesan-thyme crackers from Ina Garten’s “Back to Basics” cookbook. The flavor in her crackers is more intense, but I find the dough a little more difficult to work with than this cracker dough. The hint of heat gives them a nice bite, and these are wonderful with a glass of wine.

Jenna Helwig

These crackers are addictive little flavor-bombs. The dough is an absolute cinch to mix together in the food processor, and is easy to form into logs.

One caveat: After removing the log from the freezer, I had to let it thaw for about 15 minutes before I could slice the dough into crackers. Also, the crackers are definitely best eaten the day they are made.

Pat Francis

These crackers are easy to make and have a wonderful spicy and cheesy flavor. They’re hard to walk away from—I had to put them away so I wouldn’t keep eating them. They’re great alone, and as an hors d’oeuvre topped with prosciutto.

Liz Tarpy

This dough came together beautifully. I found that using wax paper to roll it into a log was helpful. Putting parchment paper down on the baking sheet might also be a good idea for next time because there was a little sticking. The crackers’ flavor is cheesy, with a little kick from the cayenne.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

I’ve tried lots of cracker recipes, and this is the first time I felt like I ended up with crackers and not little bits of vaguely flavored sheetrock. This simple recipe turns a short list of common ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions into the most delightfully savory crackers. Think about it as old-fashioned refrigerator cookies meets Goldfish crackers, and you begin to get the idea. I didn’t have my kitchen scales, so I guesstimated the amount of cheese needed. This recipe isn’t fussy — it’s simple and satisfying. I used Tillamook extra sharp cheddar and real Parmigiano Reggiano. (I thought that a recipe this uncomplicated deserved the best ingredients.) One note: Making them a day ahead is not recommended. The cracker I saved to eat the next day was a bit disappointing, being kind of oily and chewy. But if you’re in the mood for warm and nearly instant gratification, try this cracker recipe.

Jodi, “little bits of vaguely flavored sheetrock.” I just sputtered out my drink. So glad you liked these decidedly un-sheetrock crackers!


Cheese Crackers

(Adapted from a recipe on smittenkitchen.com, which was credited to a recipe in The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)

Makes about 70 (1-inch square) crackers

1½ cups (6 oz) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons (56 grams or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

¾ cup (90 g) flour, plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon milk

A little over 6 ounces of cheese – close enough!

2. Put everything except the milk in a food processor. Pulse the processor, 5 seconds at a time, for about 5 or 6 times, until the dough is in coarse crumbs.

3. Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together in a ball.

4. Roll the dough out on a floured board with a rolling pin that has been floured until it is about 1/8 inch thick. (Deb suggested an 8吆 rectangle.)

I don’t know why I couldn’t roll my dough into a neat 8吆 rectangle. It still worked.

5. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. You can put a bit of flour on the blade of the knife to keep it from sticking.Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each cracker.

6. Place the crackers at least ¼ inch apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. (Mine took 13 minutes.)

8. Put the baking sheet on a rack and let the crackers cool completely.

9. Eat! Or store in a covered container to eat within a day or two.


How to bake homemade crackers

Homemade crackers: Does that sound like an impossible feat? My friends are always mystified when I set out a plate of homemade crackers. To them, crackers come from the store in a plastic sleeve or a cardboard box.

Luckily, I grew up in a household rife with homemade snacks. I won’t say I didn’t ever covet the miniature bags of Goldfish or cans of Pringles my classmates had — I did on a daily basis (lunchtime was trying on my 8-year-old nerves). But I did gain an early appreciation for the benefits of replicating classic snacks at home.

Crackers are deceptively simple to bake. For the novice baker, they’re a perfect entry point into baking: quick, delicious, and difficult to ruin. (And let’s face it: True snack connoisseurs love slightly burned crackers. We call them “well-done.")

The most challenging part of a cracker recipe is rolling the dough thinly enough to ensure that your crackers are crispy. Again, imperfection in this regard still yields a tasty result: If your crackers are too thick, they’ll be just as flavorful but will have less snap. Let nothing deter you from trying your hand at this!

In the time it takes to search for your wallet and car keys, you can make homemade crackers. Of the dozens of recipes on our site, you can find one to match your favorite store-bought variety: soda crackers (like Saltines), Vermont cheese crackers (like Cheez-its), crunchy seeded crackers (like gourmet flatbreads), or homemade versions of graham crackers or crisp bread.

Some cracker recipes require a quick rest of the dough in the refrigerator before rolling others you can bake immediately. There’s a cracker recipe to fit every timetable!

The best part of mastering homemade crackers? Customization. Most cracker recipes are a blank canvas of sorts, a perfect place to experiment with dried herbs, cheeses, seeds, fancy salts, and other ingredients. Just like bread dough, crackers are limited merely by your imagination.

Homemade crackers — whatever the type — tend to follow the same steps: Mix up your dough, chill (if needed, particularly for softer or more buttery doughs), and then roll out as thinly as possible. Cut into your desired shape, prick with a fork, and bake.

I turned to one of our expert bakers here at King Arthur, marketing coordinator (and cracker lover) Gwen Adams, to get her tried-and-true tips for making the best homemade crackers yet. Combine her tips with some of our favorite and most reliable cracker recipes, and you’ll be on your way to new levels of snacking bliss.

Homemade Crackers Tip #1: Get in shape!

After cutting your dough into the desired shape, pull away and discard (or re-roll out if you have enough) any scraps and stray edges of dough. Those stray edges and little bits will scorch too easily.

Although rustic-looking crackers are fun, uniformly-shaped square, rectangular, and round crackers will bake more evenly than jagged ones. Get creative! The recipe might direct you to cut your dough into squares, but you can think outside of the box. Use any shape you like just keep them uniform so that each cracker bakes consistently.

Homemade Crackers Tip #2: Separation anxiety

To achieve crispier edges, separate your crackers before baking. This step isn't strictly necessary (the crackers will always crisp as they cool), but try it out and see the difference it makes.

Homemade Crackers Tip #3: Cool it

If you’re baking in a humid kitchen environment (hello, New York City summer), allow your crackers to cool in a turned-off oven with the door propped open slightly. This will help the crackers crisp up better.

Homemade Crackers Tip #4: Smarter storage

To store your crackers, allow them to cool fully and then place them in an airtight container. Shielding the crackers from air will help maintain their snap longer.

Homemade Crackers Tip #5: Thin for the win

The thinner the dough, the crispier the crackers. If your dough is too thick, you’ll end up with softer crackers that resemble a bread stick more than a true cracker. You should aim for a thickness of about 1/16" rolling your dough on a piece of floured parchment helps to stop it from sticking as you roll.

Take a look at the dough for my version of our Sourdough Crackers. I've added dried basil and oregano to the dough for an herbed twist: You can see how thin the dough is right before cutting.

A great trick: If you have a pasta machine (or the pasta attachment with a KitchenAid), use it to roll your cracker dough into thin sheets.

Homemade Crackers Tip #6: Parchment perfection

Parchment paper is a baker’s best friend. Rolling your dough (and cutting it) on a sheet of parchment paper makes transferring simpler. Just pick up the parchment and slide it onto a baking sheet. With such thin dough, this is especially crucial.

You can then slide the finished crackers onto a cooling rack easily with the help of the parchment.

Homemade Crackers Tip #7: Steam room

Ever wonder why store-bought crackers sport pricked patterns on the tops? Pricking the dough with a fork allows steam to escape, which keeps them from inflating and puffing up. Don't skip this step!

Homemade Crackers Tip #8: Wholesome snacking

Gwen points out that crackers are a great place to start with if you’re looking to add more whole grains to your diet. You can easily substitute whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour in your cracker recipe. You get more nutrition and a nuttier, richer flavor. Everyone wins.

Feeling ready to become a cracker master? Start with one of these excellent recipes:

Homemade Cracker Recipe #1: Vermont Cheese Crackers

A homemade version of a Goldfish or Cheez-it, these cheesy crackers feature our Vermont cheese powder (the very finest sharp Vermont cheddar in powdered form) for an intensely savory, salty flavor. I love cutting them in small circles with a miniature biscuit cutter for a prettier presentation.

Homemade Cracker Recipe #2: Gluten-Free Almond Flour Crackers

Made with just almond flour, egg, and seasonings, this recipe couldn't be simpler (or quicker!). While nicely suited for gluten-free eaters, the nutty flavor makes it a wholesome snack that anyone will crave. This is a great example of an easy-to-customize recipe garlic powder, dried herbs, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or flax seeds would all be wonderful additions.

Homemade Cracker Recipe #3: Sourdough Crackers

If you, like me, feel slightly sad every time you discard half of your sourdough starter come feeding time, here's your perfect recipe. Unfed sourdough starter adds a pleasant tanginess to these crunchy crackers, which you can cut into any shape (I like diamonds or squares, as shown here) and flavor with any add-ins (our artisan bread topping or pizza seasoning are both great contenders).

Now it's your chance. Try your hand at making homemade crackers tell us your favorite versions in the comments below!


Recipe Summary

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

In a large mixing bowl combine shredded cheese and butter bring to room temperature (about 1 hour). Beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Stir in flour, salt, and red pepper. Divide the dough in half. Shape dough into two 7-inch logs. Wrap and chill logs for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. With a knife or a crinkle cutter, slice the cheese logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days. Makes about 4-1/2 dozen crackers.

Prepare cheese logs cover and chill until just before serving time or up to 3 days. Slice and bake as directed.


Cheesy, spicy crackers good enough to give as gifts

2 of 3 The ingredients and technique for making spicy cheese crackers are similar to those used to make pie dough. Butter and flour (with added flavorings) are its bones. Matthew Mead/FRE Show More Show Less

3 of 3 The ingredients and technique for making spicy cheese crackers are similar to those used to make pie dough. Butter and flour (with added flavorings) are its bones. Matthew Mead/FRE Show More Show Less

When I was a kid, my parents sometimes brought home tins of deliriously delicious cheese crackers. I can't remember the brand - I think it was a British import - but I do remember that my sister and brother and I would inhale them as soon the tin was opened.

All these years later, the flavor of those crackers - richly cheesy and spicy - remains burned into my memory. This recipe is my attempt to resurrect them.

The ingredients and technique for making these crackers are similar to those used to make pie dough.

Butter and flour (with added flavorings) are its bones. And as with pie dough, as soon as you combine gluten (the protein in flour) with a liquid, you have to mix quickly and briefly or the end product will be tough. So be careful not to overmix the dough.

The stars of this recipe are its two cheeses: extra-sharp cheddar and Parmesan. The spice, which is added to the dough at the start, then dusted onto the outside of each cracker, is provided by Colman's Mustard powder (a venerable English brand) and cayenne pepper.

Happily, this recipe is simple to make.

The dough is mixed quickly in a food processor, then shaped into a cylinder and chilled for an hour, time enough for the gluten to relax and the dough to solidify, making it easy to slice and bake. The typical cracker recipe requires you to roll out the dough and cut it with a cutter, a method that takes a lot more time - and generates a bigger mess - than my cylinder method.

Another advantage of this method is that you can freeze the cylinder (just take care to wrap the dough well, first in plastic, then in foil) and then, when guests show up unexpectedly, let the dough soften on the counter for a bit, then slice off and bake as many crackers as you need.

Or you can package the baked crackers in batches of 10 or 12, tie them up with a bow and give them as gifts.

No matter how you use them - as presents or served at home - I believe your family and friends will make them disappear as quickly as my sister, brother and I made that tin go poof.

½ pound extra-sharp cheddar, coarsely grated

5 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1½ cups (6¹&frasl3 ounces) all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1½ teaspoons Colman's Mustard powder, divided

1¼ teaspoons cayenne, divided

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions: In a food processor, combine the cheddar and 4 ounces of the Parmesan. Pulse until the cheddar is finely chopped. Add the flour, butter, ½ teaspoon of the mustard, the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the cayenne. Pulse until the mixture looks like small pellets. Add the Worcestershire sauce and ice water, then pulse until just combined.

Pour the dough onto the counter, divide it into two mounds, then use the palm of your hands to smear each mound across the counter several times, or until it comes together quickly when you press it with your fingers.

Transfer each half of the dough onto a 16-inch-long sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a 12-inch log (about 1½ inches around), using the plastic as needed, then wrap tightly in the plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with kitchen parchment and position one of the oven racks in the center of the oven.

On a large plate, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon of mustard and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Remove one of the cylinders from the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough, then roll it in the spice mix, rubbing off the excess spice. Slice the dough crosswise about ¹/3 inch thick. Arrange the dough rounds on the prepared sheet pans, about ½ inch apart.

Sprinkle each round with a pinch of the additional Parmesan cheese and bake on the oven's middle and bottom shelves, switching places halfway through, until dark golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Nutrition information per cracker: 60 calories 40 calories from fat (67 percent of total calories) 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated 0 g trans fats) 10 mg cholesterol 100 mg sodium 3 g carbohydrate 0 g fiber 0 g sugar 2 g protein.