Cheese Cracker Fail


November 28, 2012 by Meg G.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of great cooking, community, and conversation! I managed to take just one photo from the celebration – highlighting my aunt’s beautiful tablescape and my cookies.

We had a lovely day, full of laughter to the point of tears. Thank God for family!

Eager to get back in my own kitchen, I had big plans for yesterday’s culinary experiments: roasted carrot soup from Food52 (coming soon) and cheddar crackers from Alana Chernilla’s Homemade Pantry. I thought to myself, “One day, these little guys might replace my unhealthy addiction to Cheezits.” (A girl can dream, right?)

But for real, I have jumped on the homemade bandwagon in a serious way. Alana’s book and the From Scratch Club’s cook-along is kind of blowing my mind. Three months ago, I never could have imagined that I could make so many pantry staples from scratch. I’ve already made ricotta, “instant” oatmeal, veggie broth, lasagna noodles, apple sauce, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Many of those recipes were quite simple, requiring simple ingredients. Some take more time than others, but all of them have been really worth it, even the ones that haven’t gone perfectly. Enter the cheese crackers…

Here’s what happened. This was a classic case of doing too much at once and not reading properly. It’s amazing how quickly things will go downhill when you misread the oven temperature…sigh. Alright, enough chatter, here’s the recipe.


  • 3 Tbs unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch thick cubes, plus additional for baking sheets
  • 1.5 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour, plus additional for the counter
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups (6 oz) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 ice cube


Combine butter, flour, dry mustard, and salt in the bowl of your standing mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until crumbly and butter begins to integrate, about 30 seconds. Add the cheese and mix again on low speed for a few seconds.

In liquid measuring cup, combine 3/4 cup water, the vinegar, and ice cube and let it sit for a moment to get cold. Add 6 tablespoons of the liquid to the dough and mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Continue adding liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough clings to the beater. (I think I wound up adding another 4 tablespoons.) Then mix for an additional 30 seconds. Mound the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Preheat the oven to *325F* and grease two baking sheets. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, press into a flat disc, and roll with rolling pin until the dough is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Use a pizza wheel to cut the crackers into 2-inch squares (or a small biscuit cutter for round crackers).

Transfer crackers to the greased cookie sheets, allowing 1 inch between crackers. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the baking, or until the crackers are slightly golden. Turn off the oven, but leave the trays in the oven as it cools for at least 1 hour.

So, it turns out, that when you try to cook dinner and make crackers at the same time, you might accidentally read 325 as 375 and burn the heck out of your lovely cheese crackers.

Of course we salvaged as many of the crackers as we could – chiseling off the burnt pieces as we went along. And despite being burnt to a crisp, the salvageable pieces were still QUITE delicious. Like, I’m thinking about popping one in my mouth right now, at 10:22am.

In a previous life, I may have thrown a fit and cried over burnt crackers and my own responsibility for their destruction. But, I’ve come to realize that failure is a crucial part of experimenting in the kitchen. As Alana put it in the FSC’s most recent podcast, people are often paralyzed by the fear of doing something wrong, ruining a meal, or embarrassing themselves in front of company. So, lots of people just don’t try, because it’s easier not to take that risk. But where’s the fun in that?!

Your kitchen failures may just turn into something even more delicious next time around, might remind you to read more carefully or slow down a bit, and will certainly make for a good story over the dinner table (perhaps a few days or years later). In any case, our failures help to remind us that we’re not here to be perfect. Or, better yet, perhaps they encourage us to re-imagine our definitions of perfection and failure…

Falling Into Place by Brian Andreas of StoryPeople

Care to share your own kitchen failures – or shall we call them adventures?

12 thoughts on “Cheese Cracker Fail

  1. Jessica says:

    Also, your cookies are SO impressive! A side business, perhaps??

    • Thanks, friend! Not sure I’m ready for the cookie big-leagues just yet. But maybe one day, (you know, when we open our B&B), they’ll be our signature item. ; ) And thanks for sharing your roll-burning experience…happens to the best of us!

  2. Jessica says:

    Oh no, Meg! I had a similar Thanksgiving experience with homemade rolls- a 2 day process that ultimately burned in the oven because of my distracted mind. But like you, I ate them anyway 🙂

  3. ginger says:

    OOoooo I may have to try these…ESPECIALLY if they tasted good even burnt! 🙂 I have many kitchen disasters, but the most recent may be when i put garlic bread loaded with olive oil under the broiler and it caught on fire!!! flames coming out! just closed the door shut off the flame and it went out! Hope you try them again soon and they are yummy!

    • Ginger – I highly recommend trying them. They’re super easy, as long as you actually follow the directions. Yikes! Kitchen fires can be scary! Glad to hear you came through it without any injuries!

      • ginger says:

        Thanks Meg…I will! Thanks for the encouragement….and of course my mil was here for the incident! ha! Never live that one down! Although she still thinks I’m a good cook! 😉

      • Well, if your mother-in-law still thinks you’re a good cook, that’s a pretty good endorsement! Anytime you want to come over to Worcester and cook up a storm with us, you just let us know!

      • ginger says:

        Wow…i would be honored to come cook with you two! 😉 I’m sure it would be lots of laughs too! Maybe in the new year i will have to escape the house of boys! xo

  4. Colleen Rost-Banik says:

    Too funny! To this day some of our (or my) kitchen failures turn out to be some of the best and funniest stories shared with friends and family! I always suggest putting the failed food products in the freezer in hopes of salvaging them at a later time. (Really it’s because I can’t stand the thought of throwing away all those ingredients and all that hard work.) Once the failed food product is in the freezer, my emotional attachment to the food weakens. Eventually, and usually (although not always), I end up throwing it out anyway.

    • Colleen! We share your inability to throw out food, but alas, sometimes you just have to look the other way. I like the freezer tactic, though. I’ll consider that next time we have a kitchen disaster! ; )

  5. Kaytee Stewart says:

    I love your blog, Meg!

    Thought I’d share one of my most recent fails, so you know you’re in good company 🙂 In an attempt to do too much at once (cooking, cleaning, packing for the holiday) I recently messed up a signature recipe by using meringue power instead of baking soda in cookies because I grabbed the wrong thing out of the cabinet (next to each other, similar containers…rushing). Believe it or not–they are in no way compatible! So my famous soft, chewy gingerbread cookies became puffy, hard disks that resembled kindergarten make-your-own-playdough-ornaments. Needless to say, we brought wine to family instead of cookies this year!

    • Thanks, Kaytee! And thanks so much for sharing your recent kitchen fail. Oy vey! Baking certainly doesn’t leave much room for error, does it? While I’m sure your family missed the signature gingerbread cookies, I’m also certain they were most excited to have you at the table! ; )

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