I made four batches of crackers recently, one after the other. Some were terrific — nice and crunchy, lightly salty — but too fussy to ever make again. On one baking sheet the little squares were inedible, just hard and dry.
I got the idea that you could make crackers at home that are as good as commercial brands. The great ones, with that impossibly crisp texture, are such a fiddle they’re not worth it. They’re troublesome to roll thinly and cut evenly and involve lots of resting and refrigeration. I’ve thrown in the towel.
Now I’m making pita chips and they’re identical to the ones you can buy.
It all started one Friday night, when a tiny group meets regularly on Facetime, an event that’s been on our calendar since the beginning of the pandemic. I can count the times on one hand that we’ve missed. This coveted event consists of drinks and a little something to ward off starvation till a late dinner.
On our side of the screen, there is always sparkling wine and a big bowl of freshly made popcorn. At first we inhaled the popcorn — it was such a treat because we hadn’t made it that often before — but nearly a year later, we need something else. A couple of weeks ago thin pita chips coated with a spicy blend came in our takeout order. Now pita chips are the snack and I’m making them.
Start with locally made pita, the thinner the better, or use lavash. You need kitchen shears, a large rimmed baking sheet that won’t buckle in the oven, a bottle of olive oil with a spout for sprinkling, and coarse salt.
There are several ways to make them. You can separate the pita pocket to thin form two rounds and do nothing more than tear them into odd-sized pieces and lay them on the baking sheet. Or you can use the shears to cut nice even triangles or squares from the single rounds. Or, forget separating the two disks and just cut squares. Some will stay as two-layer crackers, and some will separate. That’s the easiest method.
Here are instructions for this quick two-layer method. Use the shears to cut the bread into 1-inch squares and transfer them to a large bowl. Sprinkle them with olive oil and salt and toss with your hands. You may need to sprinkle them again and toss again if the squares from the bottom of the bowl look dry. Use salt sparingly. A little goes a long way here.
Spread the squares out on the rimmed baking sheet in more or less one layer. (At this point you can sprinkle them with a spice or herb blend.) Bake them in a 375-degree oven for 8 to 12 minutes — timing depends on how fresh the pita is; stale bread takes less time — or until they’re golden. They need a little babysitting. You have to turn them several times while they’re in the oven and you have to remove the thin pieces that brown right away. They go from golden to burnt quickly. Each piece should look toasted when it’s done. They’re exceptionally crunchy, a little salty, and delicious. Store them in a plastic container when they’re cool and they’ll maintain their crunch for a couple days.
Besides the new snack, nothing else about our Friday night chats has changed. We’ve toasted holidays and birthdays and every little thing we can think of, including relief at having survived another week. We’ve digested the news together, gone over interesting stories or books we’ve read, music we’ve heard, good food, good deeds. It doesn’t cost a thing except time — and that we have in spades.
Now you have a format and something easy to make. Fill your coffee mug or wine glass and call a friend.