Whole grain crackers, in contrast to standard white crackers, are made from flour that utilizes the entire grain. As a result, they offer more nutritional benefit than crackers not made with whole grains. This causes many individuals to view whole grain crackers as a healthier alternative. Many bakers even include other healthy ingredients in their recipes to contribute additional nutritional value to the finished cracker.
All whole grain crackers start with whole grain flour. These types of flour are made by grinding down the bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain. Other types of flour only utilize the endosperm.
Among the types of flour used for whole grain crackers, whole wheat flour and graham flour are the most common. Both have a coarse texture and are made by grinding down wheat. Graham flour grinds the bran and germ layers separately, however, grinding down the bran layer into coarse pieces and the germ layer into fine pieces. Whole wheat flour grinds the entire seed down at once. Bakers may use other whole grain flours — like rye flour, spelt flour, and soy flour — but these appear less commonly in cracker recipes.
Additional ingredients commonly found in whole grain crackers include salt, oil, and water. The oil and water provide enough moisture to form a flat dough. Salt adds flavor to the crackers. Some cooks roll the dough in all-purpose flour, and some even add a small amount of all-purpose flour in with the whole grain flour in order to provide a finer texture.
Depending on personal preference, bakers add other spices and ingredients to their recipes that further alter the taste. Seeds, including sesame, caraway, and poppy seeds, contribute a subtle taste and a new dimension of texture. Spices, like garlic powder and onion powder, create a cracker with a more savory taste. Honey and sugar add sweetness to the cracker. Dehydrated vegetables, roasted and finely chopped, add more vitamins and create a nutritionally well-balanced cracker.
In most cracker recipes, the baker first mixes the dry ingredients together. He or she adds the oil until it combines with the dry ingredients, then slowly adds the water until a dough forms. The cook must knead and roll out the dough before cutting it into the shapes he or she desires for the crackers. These cut out pieces of dough are baked until crisp and browned.
Whole grain crackers have more nutritional value than other types of crackers. Refined flour only uses the endosperm, which does contain the majority of the kernel's carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The germ contains additional vitamins, protein, minerals, and healthy fats, however, and the bran contains vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. While crackers made with refined flour still have nutritional value, crackers made from whole grains have a more complete nutritional profile.