DIY Food

Fennel Seed Crackers

December 28, 2012

Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

This week, Elodie Bellegarde of Framing Plates gives us the perfect savory cracker to enjoy with a good cheese and a glass of champagne.

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I wasn’t into cheese until I was 20, when I met my British husband. We still joke about how I finally became French after a meal at his friends' home. After a few drinks and some great food, they presented us with a box of ripe and smelly Camembert, crackers, and a bottle of port. I was first surprised by the fact that the British serve cheese after dessert (cheese is usually served before dessert in France). Once accustomed to this idea, I was struck by how good cheese tastes with port. I have become totally addicted to cheese since that moment.

I now love any cheese but have a preference for stronger ones. What also struck me is how different a culinary experience it is when eaten with crackers. I do like a nice piece of goat’s cheese with a slice of sourdough or walnut bread, but there is something really enjoyable about cheese and crackers. The combination isn’t overbearing and gives cheese a chance to stand out on its own. The crunchiness of a cracker balances well with the softer texture of a blue cheese or a Camembert to name a few. I think on that point the French could learn a thing or two from their English neighbors.

I’ve been really into making my own edible gifts and have found that crackers make wonderful little packages. They can be made in advance since they keep well in an airtight container. They can also be cut into different shapes and customized to the receiver’s tastes and dietary requirements. A selection of homemade crackers makes a very special gift to take to a dinner party. Wrapped in a pretty package with a handwritten label, they are sure to put a smile on the face of the lucky recipient.

This recipe is really versatile. Feel free to try out new flavors and even flours. I particularly like crackers flavored with rosemary and sea salt, charcoal (it tastes great with goat’s cheese), olive oil or walnut. The list is endless. Stored in an airtight container or jar, they will keep for about 10 days.

Fennel Seed Crackers
Makes about 2 dozen

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 ounces butter, cubed
1 teaspoon of salt (Maldon or sea salt preferably)
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, or more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
5 to 7 tablespoons cold water (you may need more or less)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Put all the ingredients except for the water in a clean bowl. With your hands, combine until crumbs form. Add some of the water, a little at a time to form a ball. If the dough is too dry add more water, if too wet add more flour. Don’t overwork the dough or the crackers will be tough once baked.

Roll the dough on a clean, floured surface to about a 1/2 centimeter thickness. Cut the dough into circles, diamonds, or any shape you like, and place the pieces onto the prepared tray, leaving a little bit of space between each cracker.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crackers turn a light shade of brown. Leave to cool and transfer into an airtight container.

Save and print the recipe here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chris Peterson
    Chris Peterson
  • jaynec
  • bklyncook
  • Sonia Rumzi
    Sonia Rumzi
  • Jenn2323
I love to cook, eat and talk about food. I actually talk a lot about it. I have freshly graduated from a MA in Culinary Arts in the UK and now live in Singapore where I talk, eat, style and shoot food.


Chris P. November 7, 2018
This looks so good. I am excited about this recipe. As of late, I am sort of obsessed with making crackers. I have been making a lot of oat based crackers. This one is so nice because it is different. I want to get a wide variety of cracker recipes that are reliable and have them in jars for our family and guests who stop by. I love cheese and crackers too. I also love hummus with crackers. Thank you again. You life looks fun. Nice meeting you through this recipe. I am Italian and I find recipes like friends. I love to collect them.
jaynec February 3, 2013
These crackers sound wonderful but I need a gluten free version. Any ideas on gluten free flours that would work in this recipe?
burns W. February 3, 2013
I did a blog about this 2 days ago.
bklyncook January 28, 2013
With that amount of flour ( 2.5 cups), my result was 3x the amount of crackers...and I needed way more water ( and some olive oil) to keep it together. Any chance that the quantities are a bit off? This was my first try at crackers and the end result was good --but they needed more salt too..
adrienne N. January 28, 2013
try 4 cups of flour (and you can play around with assorted flours such as splelt, whole wheat, shiffon, etc.) 1 cup water, 1 cup olive oil. I use at least 1 tbls. salt, and also put in other spices according to my mood. The dough will be very easy to roll out and you can make them however thick or thin you like. Good Luck
Sonia R. January 21, 2013
I grew up with homemade fennel crackers. Thank you so much for the recipe. Huge hugs.
Elodie B. January 24, 2013
I'm glad you like it Sonia! Thanks for your lovely comment.
Jenn2323 January 6, 2013
Thank you for sharing this great recipe. I use fennel seed in so many recipes. Sometimes I feel like Food52 is reading my mind, but with even better recipes.
Elodie B. January 9, 2013
Thanks! I also really like to cook with fennel seeds. So fragrant! And delicious with sausage meat if you ever feel like it.
would rye flour be ok or would you suggest combining with a white or wheat?
Elodie B. January 9, 2013
I would maybe do half rye-half wholewheat to start (I prefer wholewheat flour to white flour here) . You may need to add more or less water than my recipe suggests. Just see how the dough responds to the addition of rye flour. Please, let me know how it goes as I am always on the look for new alternatives.
SusanGiff January 6, 2013
Do you think you could bake the sheet whole and just break it up into cool jagged pieces?
Elodie B. January 9, 2013
I think it should be okay as long as you pre-cut the crackers before baking ( as my last photo suggests). They are quite hard so they shouldn't crumble when you break them once cooked.
ninadora January 6, 2013
Charcoal?? Who, what, when, where?
Elodie B. January 9, 2013
You can use edible activated charcoal. If you have a store similar to the British Holland and Barrett you should be able to find some.
adrienne N. January 2, 2013
Ive been making this reciepe for years - only differance 3 cups of flours (whole wheat, shiffon... what ever but always mixed up together) and 1 cup of olive oil. Ah yes, and with a generous tablespoon of grated garlic.
Antonia A. December 30, 2012
Do you think these would work w/ all purpose gluten flour?
Elodie B. December 31, 2012
Hi Antonia, I don't often use all purpose gluten free flour so can't be sure whether they would come out the same as with my recipe. However, you could try by changing the ratios slightly and see where this takes you. I don't see why it wouldn't work.
burns W. January 1, 2013
My somewhat limited experience cooking for people who are gluten intolerant tells me one needs to stay away from the whole wheat grain family - wheat, spelt, Kamut, the works. So you would need to use zero gluten bases: chickpeas, rice, etc. But you need some binder or you won't have a cracker. I'd suggest trying out xanthan or guar gum for this purpose. Likewise, most of these folks will also be intolerant to butter - so I'd suggest subbing oil or coconut oil. I'll be trying this myself shortly...
Elodie B. January 2, 2013
Thanks Burns for your suggestion. I've heard about using binder on GF baking but never tried it myself so I can't tell if this would work here. I also meant to say in my last comment that if you use gluten free flour to make the crackers you may need to change the ratios. I've been recently baking with a mix of brown rice flour and plain flour and find that it changes the texture of doughs. So, Antonia if you do use gluten free flour you may need a little more flour than what this recipe calls for. Please let me know if you come up with a nice GF recipe.
burns W. December 28, 2012
Fun isn't it! Now I just BUY crackers rarely for ideas and inspiration.
I'm curious to try the butter idea - so far I've gone really basic: flour & water in baker's ratio + salt and flavorings. Recently I've been messing around with a sourdough version.
My version of your cracker blog is here: