Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers & Week's Menu Plan

As you might be able to tell, we're moving more and more to making most foods ourselves. It's amazing how many aisles in the grocery store that I now skip on my weekly trip. Top of that list is the cracker and cookie aisle.  Almost all our cookies and crackers come from my kitchen instead.  And now, we have a delicious homemade recipe for one of my favorites: graham crackers.

These graham crackers are more labor intensive and need some time to chill in the refrigerator (twice).  But it worked out well as I could fit in chores and dinner while the dough chills.  And these graham crackers are delicious! The thinner crackers are crispy and have a crunch reminiscent of store bought graham crackers while the thicker ones were a bit chewier.  I liked both kinds and the overall flavor was delicious with a hint of molasses.

To make life easier, I halved the recipe and it still made quite a bit.  I also skipped the step about decorating the cookies to make them look like graham crackers.  It wasn't worth the effort for me.  While the taste is exactly the same, however, including this step would make them look a lot more authentic than mine!

As a side note, I've also included our week's menu plan (and already altered it...we're having roasted eggplant pizza instead of eggplant parmesan)!

Homemade Graham Crackers
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares (I halved this recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup while whole wheat flour works well)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt 
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best (I used skim with a drop of whipping cream)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon-Sugar Topping (optional, I omitted and we didn't miss it!)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Make the 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. (Alternately, if you don't have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender, making sure they're very well incorporated.)
  2. 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. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.
  4. 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 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. (This makes traditional graham cracker shape.  I cut mine into 2 inch squares instead.)
  5. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. 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.
  6. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  7. Decorate the crackers (optional, I omitted): Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
  8. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. After the 10 minute mark, I'd recommend checking every few minutes to ensure they don't burn.


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