Graham crackers are a staple at our house.
The boys love them (and when I say boys, I’m including my husband, too).
Last week I took the time to look at the back of the box – and was surprised by all the crazy ingredients listed. It always starts to worry me when I have no idea what an ingredient is. Anyways, I decided to look up recipes for graham crackers and realized they didn’t seem too hard to make.
(Well, Hubs looked them up, and subtlety suggested I make some – and when I say subtlety, I mean he pulled up several recipes on the computer and kept talking and talking about how good it would be to have some that were homemade. Subtle as a Mack truck, he is.)
So I thought, why not?
Graham Crackers, slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 1/2 c plus 2 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 t baking soda
3/4 t kosher or coarse sea salt
7 T unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 c mild-flavored honey
5 T milk, full-fat is best
2 T pure vanilla extract
Dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. .
Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough out. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Choose your shape/s and cut out accordingly.
Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven), until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
If you are eating graham crackers out of a box, than you are missing out! These are so, so tasty – but not exactly what I was expecting – almost a thin gingersnap without the ginger…
The first thing that became abundantly clear when I started making these: I have issues with shapes. (Now, being a former kindergarten teacher this kind of depresses me, but I’ll try to somehow get past it.)
My first attempt to make a rectangle (pre-first-chill).
My dough wasn’t as sticky as I was expecting, but it was pretty easy to roll out. Make sure to flour your rolling-pin well, though, just in case.
My second attempt at rolling out a rectangle (post chill).
At this point, I knew that any attempt at making the traditional rectangular graham cracker shape would be pointless… So I made graham cracker circles (with a cookie cutter). I felt much better, and less like a failure, after I made that decision.
Identical, identifiable shapes make me happy.
Now, you don’t have to ‘decorate’ your crackers if you don’t want to, but I though I owed it to them – to make them feel a little more like a part of the regular graham cracker family. So I used the end of a chopstick and poked in those little holes.
Then they were off to bake. Deb, from Smitten Kitchen, has a large range for cooking times. Mine took almost the full 25 minutes, though I did check on them a lot after 15, just in case.
And then, when I took them out of the oven, a golden shaft of sunlight fell onto them, announcing their presence to our kitchen.
And there you have them: homemade, delicious, crunchy with a little chew, perfectly imperfect graham crackers.