Monday, September 5, 2011

Graham Crackers

Graham crackers?
Yes, graham crackers.
Really, graham crackers?
YES, graham crackers.
Graham crackers, huh?

I know, I know. Seems kind of odd, maybe a little boring, graham crackers. I mean, they're pretty good right out of the box. Why would you need to make them? Well, my reasons are few but meaningful. 

First, I was stumped this week on a blog post. I usually take pictures whenever I cook or bake and even if I haven't made something a particular week I have a post or pictures "in the can" so I can post weekly. Well this past week that just didn't happen. Somehow I was caught up on posting all the various things I've made. There I was, no pictures, no recipe, nothing to make. So I did what I do whenever that happens and turned to my "recipes to try" file. One of the first things I came across was graham crackers, so I though "What the heck." I'll make graham crackers.

Second, I've been looking, off and on, for some time, for a recipe for homemade graham crackers. I've been knocking around an idea for a treat in which I'll need graham crackers of a particular size and shape. Upon googling it I found tons of recipes. However, with all that there was on the web, there doesn't seem to be any consensus on what makes a graham cracker a graham cracker. I finally settled on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Now Smitten Kitchen isn't a blog I read with any sort of regularity but I have poked around on it from time to time. It does however seem to appear on the "blog roll" of many of my favorite blogs so I thought "What the heck." I'll give it a try.

And so, long story short, Graham Crackers:

Get your ingredients together: AP flour, dark brown sugar, baking soda, kosher salt, unsalted butter, honey, whole milk, vanilla and (not shown) cinnamon and sugar.

Start by cutting the butter into chunks and parking it in the freezer.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.

Add the super cold butter chunks.

And pulse until it resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. 2 whole tablespoons of vanilla. I though this was a misprint but I went with it and since the end result tasted just like a graham cracker, it must be right.

Add the liquid mixture into the food processor and pulse just until it comes together. It will be very soft and very sticky.

Dump it out onto a well floured piece of wax paper. The recipe says plastic wrap but I went with wax paper because I think in the realm of food wraps that wax paper gets no respect. I also constantly wrestle with plastic wrap. I just can't seem to tear off a nice flat piece without it sticking to itself and then spending half an hour trying to straighten it out. It's an issue with me, I'll seek help.

Pat the dough out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick. Then wrap it tightly, in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and park it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I went overnight.

When you are ready to bake. Cut the rectangle in half. Put one half back into the fridge. Put the other half on a well floured surface and roll it out about 1/8-inch thick.

Here's where I veered away from the recipe. I cut the dough into 2-1/2 inch circles because this was the particular size and shape I needed for my "idea". (More on that later, stay tuned!) I did NOT sprinkle these with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

I also went ahead and cut some more traditional squares but again, I didn't go with the recipe directions I just kind of eyeballed it. These ones I did sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

They went back into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then I pricked them with a fork and baked them for about 18 minutes in a 350°F oven. I just put them on the middle rack, one pan at a time. The recipe suggests differently. Use your own judgement.

Here are the square ones just out of the oven. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container. There you have it, homemade graham crackers.

Here is the link again to the recipe. They do taste exactly like graham crackers. Are they better than store bought? Hmmm, I guess, maybe. They are slightly crispier and that's the most significant difference. Honestly, I probably won't make them again just as graham crackers and I certainly wouldn't make them only to crush them up for a pie crust.  But, for my "idea" needing a certain size and shape of graham cracker, they'll work perfectly. 

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