Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook
- Mix ‘em: Combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and paprika in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter thoroughly into the dry mixture until it looks like large crumbs, no bigger than a pea. Some people use a food processor to cut in the fat, but I prefer to save dishes and keep it all in one bowl. Combine the water and vanilla in a measuring cup, plus honey if using, and add to the flour mixture. Mix well until combined and dough forms, but only as long as necessary for the most tender crackers.
- Prep ‘em: Use parchment paper, a lightly greased cookie sheet, or an ungreased baking stone. For crackers, I would HIGHLY recommend using a baking stone (I love my Pampered Chef Rectangular Stone), or at least parchment paper or a Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat. I roll the dough right out on the stone or mat, after flouring it lightly, and bake them. Yep, right on the stone. That way I don’t have to worry about rumpled crackers as I move the fragile dough. People say, “Those are homeMADE?” because most of my crackers have perfect shape and are sooooo delectably thin.
- Roll ‘em: Only use one fourth of the dough at a time. Cover all your surfaces with flour and roll the dough as evenly as you can. You might flip the dough to make it easier to roll, but I don’t always have to. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as humanly possible without tearing. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut the dough into squares or triangles, about 1 1/2 inches each. Fork pokes make them look extra authentic. If you want all beautifully square crackers, you can trim the edges square. I skip the trimming and just deal with weird shaped crackers. Those go to the toddler right away! (Note: be sure you don’t cut your silicone mat!)
- Bake ‘em: Make sure your oven is preheated to 400 F. If you have used a mat or parchment paper, just slide it onto a cookie sheet. If you don’t have either, you’ll have to move each cracker individually. Sprinkle the squares lightly with real salt. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, 5 to 10 minutes. (If you want to do two trays at once, you can put one on top and one and bottom and switch them halfway through the baking time.) If some of the thinner crackers on the edges brown too quickly, remove them and return the remaining crackers to the oven to finish baking. These crackers bake quickly, so watch them closely – even 30 seconds can turn them from golden brown to toast!