Saltines and Homemade Cookies
Similarities and Differences
Saltines are just one of four varieties of crackers. They’re also known as “fermented“ or “soda“ crackers because of how they’re prepared. Other types of crackers are enzyme, chemical, and cream.
Developed in the United States in the early 20th century, fermented crackers are different from homemade cookies in the following areas:
- Textures of homemade cookies are chewy, crispy, and crunchy. With crackers, they are either dry, light or flaky. These savory cookies, as I like to call them, have a pattern of 13 docking holes that keep the layers together during baking.
- They are baked at very high temperature in commercial production (446 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius) for just about 2 or 3 minutes. This high heat is crucial for their desirable appearance.
You see, water inside the dough vaporizes in this intense heat, and ultimately puffs the layers of crackers between docking holes.
- Homemade saltines are rare because of the lengthy preparation process and required equipments. They are made following a sponge-and-dough method that involves the participation of yeast.
The sponge stage takes about 12 – 16 hours, and dough stage between 4 – 8 hours.
- Unlike recipes for homemade cookies, cracker formulas call for neither butter nor margarine. Shortening is used in very small percentage compared to flour weight (6 – 12%).
- When a little bit of sweetener is present in the formula, its purpose is to provide food for yeast as well as to promote a little browning and color.
As you know, in Europe and many parts of the world, the generic name for both cookies and crackers is biscuits. Both are best made from soft wheat flour with a protein content between 8 – 10%. A strong flour with high protein content will yield tough cookies and crackers.
Setting aside complicated technicalities about baking saltines, feel free to try any of these easy cracker recipes that I have test-baked just for your convenience.