Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BOTD: Graham Crackers

The other day, I was thinking that peanut butter sounded like a good snack, and my next thought was graham crackers. And I didn't have any. I was about to put them on the shopping list when the thought struck me that I ought to just make my own. How hard could it be?

The first recipe I found had a whole bunch of vegetable shortening as the first ingredient. Okay, I'm not terrified by shortening, but I figured I could do better. The second recipe had so much sugar that it sounded more like a cookie than a cracker. I was hoping to find something a little less sweet than regular graham crackers, not more sweet.

The third recipe looked like a perfect graham cracker. If you were feeding prisoners in solitary confinement.

Rather than search for recipes that might not exist, I decided to wing it. About all I used from the recipes was that proportion of 1 teaspoon of baking soda to three cups of flour. This may not be the absolutely final version of this recipe, but it's it's awfully close to what I was looking for.

Graham Crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and honey until it's light. Scrape down the bowl as needed. With the mixer running, add the salt, baking powder, and vanilla, beating until it is well incorporated.

Add the flour one cup at a time, alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until well combined and it can form a cohesive ball.

Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap it in plastic (or put it in a plastic bag) and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 3 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll the first piece to a rectangle of about 10x12 inches. Move the dough to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. If it's easier, you can roll on the parchment directly.

With a pastry cutter (for a zigzag edge) or a pizza wheel or knife, trim the edges of the dough so that it's straight and square. Cut it lengthwise so you've got two 5x12 pieces, and then make three cuts in the other direction, so you've got 8 pieces that are 3x5 inches. There's no need to separate the pieces, you'll break them apart later.

If you want graham crackers that can be easily cracked into smaller pieces, score the pieces, but don't cut all the way through. Last, use a fork to poke holes in each piece. A decorative pattern is nice, or just poke a few holes.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown just a little. Let them cool on the cookie sheet before breaking off the ragged edges you trimmed (these are a treat for the baker) and then break them into crackers.

The crackers will be soft when you take them out of the oven, but they should harden to a crackery crispness as they cool. If they don't harden, you can pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes of baking.

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