graham crackers

I have been working on a graham cracker recipe.

It’s almost there.

But I’ve never been one for perfection, so I’m going to tell you about it now.

Let me just say right off the bat that I love a good graham cracker. In fact, I love them so much that the boxed ones do it for me too. But munching on those sugar sprinkled cardboard-like rectangles, I’ve always imagined that there is a better way.

There usually is, right?
A lot of graham cracker recipes call for cutting frozen butter into the flour with a food processor. You know how I love my gadgets, but I’ve been wanting to find a way to do this one all with my very own hands. Mollie Katzen makes a graham cracker with melted butter, so I’ve been going in that direction.
I also want a lot of cinnamon. I want not too much sweetness. I want light, but a little wheaty.
Like I said, I’m almost there.

Yesterday, I found the flavor I was looking for. It was perfect. And when I took my first bite, burning the hell out of my tongue (who can wait?), I realized that I had found the most excellent hybrid of graham crackers and…
commercial pie crust.
Hallelujah.
I make all my own pie crusts. And finally, I can say that I make a pretty mean pie crust, but growing up, all of my mother’s pies only went into one thing: Orenoke Frozen Crusts. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother is not a baker. But I think that in the case of pie crust, she honestly never felt the need. Why roll pastry when you’ve got Orenoke?
When my mother would make a double crust pie, she would separate the scalloped edge of the top crust and put the pieces on their own baking sheet. They would be ready far before the pie itself, and we would fill up on the hot crust pieces while we waited for the pie. Waiting for them to cool was counterproductive, so we burned our mouths the crusts on purpose. Sometimes suffering is really worth it.
Yesterday, hot graham cracker in my mouth, I was all of the sudden ten years old, dancing around a tiny kitchen with my mother to Vonda Shephard.

So why isn’t this recipe perfect? Well, the dough is a little finicky. It crumbles a bit more than I’d like when I’m trying to cut it into little squares.
But the flavor? I don’t want to change a thing. But I want this dough to be easy. I want you to be able to roll and cut frustration free!
So let’s make a deal. If you are having a day when you are okay with a crumbly dough, give this recipe a try. Tell me what you think, and how the dough behaved for you. I’ll keep working on it on my end, and I’ll update when I find the solution.
Together, I think we can make the perfect graham cracker.

Graham Crackers

2 cups (9.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (5.5 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
3-5 tablespoons milk, as needed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil two baking sheets.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
Melt together the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a saucepan. Gently stir to incorporate and melt the sugar.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and combine with a few, swift strokes. Then set the spoon aside and put your hands into the bowl. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together when you squeeze it. Do not knead or overmix. Push the dough together in a ball and turn it out on a floured surface. Roll with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut rectangles in your desired size, and prick with a fork. Any leftover dough after cutting can be rerolled and cut as well.
Bake for 10 minutes in upper part of the oven, or until just starting to color at the edges.
Cool on a rack.


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4 Responses to graham crackers

  1. emily says:

    well, miss alana, this recipe went through an evolution before finding itself in The Homemade Pantry, didn’t it?

    So. I have read your book, and i know baby food wasn’t your thing. I forgive you for that, because it wasn’t my thing either, and also because toddler food *might* be your thing. The boys love graham crackers. LOVE. They would probably eat graham crackers with cream cheese until the cows come home but, alas, their little digestive systems don’t jive with the dairy. I’m hoping time will change that a bit, for no other reason than to allow them to experience their bliss again. The good news is that they love graham crackers with peanut butter almost as much as with cream cheese.

    Here’s the thing: trying to cut or break graham crackers slathered in peanut butter into respectable sizes yet appropriate for 13-month olds with only an inefficient set of front teeth is, simply, a pain in my ass. And so. That brings me to your book and your recipe.

    I committed the cardinal sin of baking/cooking when I made these: i changed the recipe the first time i ever made it. Well, go big, right? So i used the recipe as it exists in The Homemade Pantry, with one big difference: i added 4 tablespoons of peanut butter. I do not own a food processor, but had full confidence in my trusty pastry cutter. I learned to believe you when you say things like “roll between two sheets of waxed paper” because the task would have been impossible had i not done that. I thought it was to prevent sticking but no! Such crumble! But protected in the waxed paper, all was well.

    I did not bake these into pretty scalloped crackers, sized for the adoring adult hand. I scored them into roughly 1/4″ squares and baked in a giant sheet, perfect for breaking into twin-sized snackables. And my little peanut butter graham cracker heads have been gobbling them up ever since.

    THANKS!!! i may ask you permission to post about this (including the recipe) on my blog when i make a second go-round ;)

    • alana says:

      Oh, I know Emily- I’ve been maybe considering going through posts and letting people know when something is totally transformed in the book- I think that the two recipes have very little in common! And man it took me a long time to get to that graham cracker in the book.
      But I love your peanut butter graham cracker idea! Why not combine? I’m tempted to try it myself… xo

  2. Gayle says:

    I just made graham crackers today – drizzled them with chocolate, of course. I used the cold butter in a food processor method (Alton Brown…sorry I hadn’t seen yours). It destroyed my (already pretty pooped out) mini processor. Nonetheless, the cookies are great and it’s always fun to make at home what you’re used to buying in the store. As for things that are truly HAND made – there’s such a great feeling of getting that dough beneath your nails!

    - Gayle

    • alana says:

      Hi Gayle- It’s okay- I have nothing against Alton Brown! I want to let you know, too (in case you want to try another recipe)–the recipe in my book is quite different from this one. This was in the early stages of testing. It’s also posted over at Food 52 as part of their small batch series, if you would like to take a look. And yes- the feeling of hand made is wonderful- I agree!

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