Monday, February 1, 2010

Grahm Crackers for Seth

Nothing like a snowy weekend to hole-up in the kitchen and keep yourself warm by keeping delicious things on the stove and in the oven. In addition to some delicious homemade whole wheat bread, lentil soup and mayonaise (yes, that recipe will be coming to you soon), I got down to some baking. What kind of baking? Still in the I-can-make-it-better-than-store-bought frame of mind, I set out to tackle some pantry staples. Or perhaps, more accurately, pantry sweets. I first made the grahm crackers from this fabulous cookbook, but while I enjoyed them immensely they were very molassesy, which is not truly grahm-cracker like and Mr. Pleasant is not at all fond of strong molasses flavor. So, for my second attempt I turned here, which produced a fabulous traditional honey, cinnamony grahm cracker flavor but so, so much better than anything storebought. For a softer, flakier cracker, bake for only 10-15 minutes. For a nice crispy, bring-on-the-milk sort of cracker, bake for the full 25 minutes.

You can thank our family friend Seth and his visit from the Midwest for this prompt post. By his request, I've got on the ball and posted this sooner rather than later. Yes Seth, here's your shout-out. And the Grahm cracker recipe as promised.

Graham Crackers

adapted from

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen (or with a sturdy, sharp knife and loads of caution, cube frozen butter)

1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover

5 tablespoons whole milk (I found 2 additional Tbs. of milk were required, but this will depend on how dry the air is where you are - add any additional milk slowly and mix well, observing the consistency until it is sticky as described below)

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. 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. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
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 into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough. (If it is already cold in your kitchen, as it was in mine, I had no qualms about resting the baking sheet full of cut grahm crackers on the cold tile floor to "chill". I confess to not letting them chill the full 30 min -just as long as it took me to cut the second batch of crackers and I was happy with the results).

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line. Alternatively, cut the crackers out into rectangles (I found our ravioli cutter to be quite perfect for this) once rolled, poke with a fork as desired and sprinkle on sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Or, for the softer, flakier crackers, 10-15 minutes.

Yield: 10 large crackers or about 2 dozen smaller rectangles.

From Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000)

1 comment:

Tricia said...

I've been looking for a good graham cracker recipe--Nancy Silverton is such a great resource! The little ripply cuts are really nice too!