Thar’s holes in them thar hills! Well, I believe the term originally stated “gold” but I’m on a roll, cracker roll 🙂 Saltines, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Ritz Crackers, grahams, you name it — there’s hardly a cracker anywhere that doesn’t have a pattern of little holes in it. And no, the 18 holes in a Keebler Club cracker are not a golf course for the elves.
According to a spokesperson at Keebler, there’s a sort of mystique about cracker holes that occupies the minds of people who seem to have very little to do. They’re prone to calling Keebler’s customer-relations line to ask questions such as, “Why are there 13 holes in saltines, while graham crackers have various numbers and a Cheez-It has a sole hole?” The answer: “It just turns out that way.”
Here’s a primer on the science of crackerpuncture. Astonishingly, it turns out the holes are there for a reason, not just for decoration or for convenience in some manufacturing process, as one might expect. In actuality, without these holes, crackers wouldn’t bake correctly. These holes allow steam to escape during cooking. This keeps the crackers flat, instead of rising a bit like a normal biscuit as the steam tries to escape; these holes also help to properly crisp the crackers.
When crackers are made, dough is rolled flat in sheets. These sheets then travel under a mechanism containing “docker” pins that end up putting the holes in the dough. The hole’s positioning and number varies depending on the size and shape of the cracker. If the holes are too close together, the cracker will end up being extra dry and hard, due to too much steam escaping. If the holes end up being too far apart, parts of the cracker will rise a bit forming little bubbles on the surface of the cracker, which is undesirable in most types of crackers.
Sweet & Saltine Toffee Bark
35 to 40 saltine crackers
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.
Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.
Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.