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  1. Whisk together the flour, cheese powder, yeast, salt, and baking powder. If you're using baker's ammonia in place of baking powder, set it aside.

  2. Add the shortening, working it in to make an unevenly crumbly mixture.

  3. If you're using baker's ammonia, dissolve it in a tablespoon of the ice water, and sprinkle it over the dry mixture before adding the remaining ice water. Whether you're using baking powder or baker's ammonia, stir and toss in enough of the ice water to make a cohesive (but not sticky) dough.

  4. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a small rectangular slab.

  5. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours; don't chill longer than that. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  6. Very lightly flour a piece of parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough about 1/16" thick, or slightly thicker. If you don't have parchment, roll on a lightly floured work surface or silicone rolling mat. The dough will have ragged, uneven edges; that's OK. Just try to make it as even as possible.

  7. If you've used parchment, gently slide the parchment and crackers onto a baking sheet. Cut the dough into 1 1/4" squares; a rolling pizza wheel works well here. Don't separate the squares. If you haven't used parchment, gently fold the rolled dough in half, pick it up, and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet, THEN cut it.

  8. Prick each square with the tines of a fork.

  9. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, till the ones on the outside are starting to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and transfer the browned crackers to a cooling rack or piece of parchment; they're done. Quickly and carefully pull the remaining crackers apart to separate them. Return to the oven.

  10. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or so, or until the remaining crackers are a very light golden brown. You'll need to watch these closely at the end; don't walk away from the oven. They go from golden to dark brown very quickly.

  11. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan. When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Italian-Style Flour rolls out very easily; it's a good choice for crackers, where you need to roll the dough thinly. It also makes a lovely, crisp cracker. If you use all-purpose flour, you may need to increase the water by a teaspoon or so; and you may not be able to roll the dough as thinly.
  • Can you use freshly grated soft cheese instead of cheese powder? No, not if you want the same crisp result. Can you use freshly grated Parmesan? No, not if you want the same result, but you'll probably get some tasty crackers anyway; give it a try.
  • This is a great recipe for baker's ammonia, which makes light, ultra-crisp cookies and crackers. Note that using baker's ammonia may shorten the baking time just a tad, so be attentive while the crackers are baking.