*  Exported from  MasterCook  *
                         TRADITIONAL SODA CRACKERS
 Recipe By     : 
 Serving Size  : 100  Preparation Time :0:00
 Categories    : Crackers
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
 --------  ------------  --------------------------------
    1 1/2   ts           Dry active yeast (1 package
                         Contains 2-1/4 teaspoons)
      1/2   ts           Sugar
    1 1/2   c            Warm water
    4 1/2   c            All-purpose flour
    1       t            Baking soda
    1       tb           Water for disolving the
                         Baking soda
    2       tb           Plus 2 ts buttermilk
    2       ts           Salt
      1/4   c            Shortening
                         Salt for the tops (opt.)
   "The incomparable lightness of traditional soda
   crackers results from the unusual techniques used in
   making them. Making soda crackers is easy, but it
   takes a relatively long time. The initial rise is 20
   to 30 hours, which allows the dough to increase in
   volume without developing a pronounced yeast flavor.
   Since the dough will ferment to some extent during
   this time, alkaline soda is then added to neutralize
   the acids produced by that fermentation. The dough is
   then allowed to rest 3 to 4 hours to relax the gluten
   so the crakers will not be tough and chewy. Next, the
   dough is rolled in layers. It is definitely worth the
   extra planning it takes to make these crakers. If you
   take a few minutes to get started on a Friday morning,
   the dough can have its long rest until the next day.
   Then you can finish the mixing and let the dough rest
   again while you run your weekend errands, baking the
   crackers in time for Saturday dinner. 450~ F 9 to 11
   minutes In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the
   sugar and warm water. Set aside until the yeast is
   fully dissolved, 5 to 10 minutes. Measure 3-1/2 cups
   of the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast
   mixture and mix well. Place plastic wrap over the bowl
   and let the dough rest in a warm place for 20 to 30
   hours. The plastic wrap keeps the dough from drying
   out during this long period. In a small bowl, dissolve
   the baking soda in the Tablespoon water. Place the
   baking soda mixture, buttermilk, salt, and shortening
   in the bowl with the dough and mix well. Mix in as
   much of the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup flour as necessary
   to form a stiff, nonsticky dough. Knead for a minute
   or two and then let the dough rest, covered with the
   plastic wrap, for 15 minutes. On a lightly floured
   surface, knead the dough for another few minutes,
   until it is smooth and springy to the touch. Place it
   in a large, clean, lightly oiled bowl and let it rest
   for another 3 or 4 hours, covered with plastic wrap.
   At last you are ready to roll. Preheat the oven to
   450~ F. Punch the dough down and knead a few strokes.
   Divide the dough into 3 equal portions for rolling.
   Rolling may be difficult at first due to the
   elasticity of the dough. Give yourself a head start on
   the rolling by flattening the dough with your hands.
   Place your rolling pin in the center of the dough and
   begin. Soon the dough will relax and begin to roll
   easily. On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll out
   to a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick and
   position so the long edge runs horizontally in front
   of you. Fold the left third of the dough over the
   center third. Likewise, fold the right third over the
   center. The dough is now in 3 layers with the seam
   running vertically. Give the dough a quarter turn so
   the seam now runs horizontally. Roll out again to a
   rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Fold and turn the
   dough again as in the first step. You are now ready
   for the final rolling. Roll the dough out thinner this
   time, about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. If desired,
   sprinkle the top lightly and evenly with salt and roll
   over it lightly with the rolling pin. With a sharp
   knife, cut into 2-inch squares and place each one on
   an ungreased baking sheet. Prick each square 2 or 3
   times with the tines of a fork. Bake for 8 minutes.
   Turn and bake an additional 1 to 3 minutes, or until
   lightly browned. Cool on a rack. Yield: 95-100.
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