Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Homemade Graham Crackers

Now who the heck would make their own graham crackers, right?

I would.

Now you might.

Actually, I think you will.

It's because these are so much better. Soooo much better.

Think flakey, tender, slightly buttery and overall delicious.

Don't think dry, sawdust, cardboard... unless you're planning to build a dollhouse. In that case, I'll lend you a box.

What makes a graham cracker a cracker?

The technique. It's similar to pastry-making where cold butter is cut into a mixture of flour, sugar, salt and spice. This is unlike the story of a cookie recipe that begins with creaming butter and sugar.

What gives graham crackers their distinct flavour?

Whole wheat (or graham) flour, honey and a hint of cinnamon. I use a tiny bit of molasses to give it a bit more richness and colour, but not enough that it starts tasting like gingerbread. There's a fine line.

What is graham flour?

It's similar to whole wheat flour, except it is processed differently. Instead of simply grinding or milling the whole grain, graham flour is made by milling the outer bran separately from the interior part of the grain (the endosperm) before recombining them. The bran is milled rather coarsely to create a more textured flour.

Do you think these make the best S'mores ever?

I think you know. Please.

I never realized how dang good graham crackers are until I made them myself.

Who knew a cookie made from mostly whole wheat flour could be this freakin' tasty? They make the perfect snack so I keep a small pack of them in my purse when I'm shopping. It suppresses the hanger. Hanger is never good, but shopping exhaustion plus hanger? Oh Lord, that's dangerous.

I hope you give these a go and enjoy them as much as I do.
I hope you light a fire and make S'mores with them too. Do it in the fireplace or over the stove with a gas flame. Heck do it with a lighter! I don't care - just make some S'mores.

Bless you.

Homemade Graham Crackers
Makes about 3 dozen crackers

1 1/3 cups (190 g) whole wheat flour
2/3 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp (40 g) mild flavored honey
1 tsp cooking molasses
2 ½ tbsp milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of your food processor and process until combined. Add the cold pieces of butter and process until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla extract and process until the mixture starts to clump together and forms a ball.

Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll each portion of dough out between two sheets of parchment until it is 1/8-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment and slide the other sheet with the rolled-out dough onto a cookie sheet. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, slice the dough into 2 ¼ inch (5.5 cm) wide strips. Then cut each strip into 2 ¼ inch squares. Do not trim away the excess, uneven dough along the sides. Use the tines of a fork to make small holes down the center of each rectangle. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until cold and firm (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once chilled, remove from refrigerator and bake for 12-15 minutes or until evenly golden. The edges might get dark before the center squares are cooked enough, so you may want to remove the pan from the oven, carefully pull away the cooked crackers and then continue baking until the center squares are done. The longer you bake them the more crisp they will be. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely (they will crisp up as they cool). Store in an airtight container for about a week.

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