The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Homemade Crackers

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1991

Issue: September, 1991

Bread has been described as the "staff of life" and I can see why. I love bread. All kinds of bread. In fact, I've never tried a bread I didn't like! Sometimes I think I could live off of bread alone.

Bread has always been important to mountain families. Sometimes they didn't have much else to eat. They grew corn and sometimes buckwheat, wheat, or rye. All of these grains were ground to make meal or flour which was used to make bread. Children from poor families were told to "take one bite of meat and two bites of bread," meaning there was a lot more bread than meat.

Sometimes the same flour or meal was used to make bread and then gravy to eat with the bread and considered a whole meal. Sometimes even hot grease was poured over bread and eaten. Country folks made many a good meal out of a glass of milk and a piece of cold cornbread broken up in it. Babies and older people who had no teeth were fed bread soaked in coffee or milk. One of my grandfather's favorite things was to mix molasses and butter together on his plate and dip his bread into it. My father uses the same mixture but adds peanut butter also. Other items in mountain people's diet might have varied from day to day, but there was always fresh baked bread.

My grandmother not only baked her own bread, but made crackers too. I can remember standing beside of the kitchen table watching her roll out the dough, cut it into squares, sprinkle the squares with salt and prick the tops with a fork. Of course they were the best crackers I ever ate. (Either the taste buds of a child are especially sensitive, or our memories distort things into bigger than life proportions! Everything seemed to taste better back then.)

I'm including this month a recipe for homemade crackers that is in the new Mountain Laurel Cookbook. I'm sad to say that it isn't my grandmother's recipe, because she never wrote it down, but it is a good one. With all of the different flours on the market today, you might like to experiment with them in making these crackers, or even add sesame or other seeds to the recipe. They make nutritious, delicious snacks.

Homemade Crackers

1 Pack dry yeast
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup warm water.

Mix yeast and water until yeast dissolves. Mix in flour, a little at a time until you have a stiff dough that is not sticky. Do not let dough rise. Roll out thin and cut in squares. Place squares on a greased cookie sheet. Prick tops of squares with a fork and sprinkle salt on top. Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees) until lightly brown and crisp.