Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Graham Crackers


For many, graham crackers are one of those pantry staples which mass producers seem to provide an acceptable, consistent product.  While varying tastes and textures are noticeable between brands, once a preferred brand is located, bakers seem content to utilize these crackers without issue.

While the convenience of popping open the cardboard box and slicing through the form-fitting plastic casing is unquestioned, I recently questioned whether us consumers were missing out on a bigger issue: taste.


Graham crackers were always one of my favorite treats as a little girl.  These crisp, slightly sweet crackers were usually lurking in the corner cupboard, disguised as leftovers after birthday or holiday celebrations.

My mum would pack a few graham crackers among my other lunch components.  She would usually smear a layer of frosting - her chocolate frosting still cannot be topped - between two graham cracker squares, although I loved them just as much in their plain, natural state.


After much research and reluctance - was it really worth the extra effort when I am perfectly satisfied with my Honey Maid's? - I settled on a recipe, located some extra special local honey for my efforts, and began mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking.


I chose to cut the dough into 2-inch squares with my fluted pastry wheel.  I felt these were the perfect size - either for sandwiching or enjoying with a cup of coffee.

As the crackers baked away in my little oven, the comforting, warm scent of honey and graham filled every corner of my apartment.  Heavenly.

Still, I was somewhat reluctant watching the little squares cool on their appropriated wire rack.  The process had not been any more difficult than making any other rolled cookie.  But I just was not convinced the taste could be very remarkable.


But sometimes, baking - and the bit of extra effort it may require - yields a pleasant surprise in the first, telling bite of its reward.

And if I was not completely smitten with this little square resting between my fingers, I sampled a bite of the graham cracker which I had sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar just prior to baking.

Baking homemade graham crackers to utilize as a component of another recipe will rarely be a reality for most people.  For that, we should be thankful to have such acceptable versions readily available on our grocer's shelves.

But perhaps, like me, you happen to treasure the simplicity of a few graham cracker squares as a little afternoon snack.  In that case, I hope you will chose to treat yourself to this homemade version.


Graham Crackers
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 48 2" squares

This is a perfect base recipe for homemade graham crackers. I loved them even more with a dusting of cinnamon-sugar prior to baking. Coarse sanding sugar also works well before baking and you can customize the color for your event.

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Preparation Instructions
Combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and quickly rub into the flour mixture, until a consistency of a coarse meal is achieved.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, add liquid mixture to flour mixture until the dough just 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.

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. Using a pastry wheel, trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Cut the strip every 2 inches to create 2" squares.

Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with any desired topping [Note: I suggest a cinnamon-sugar mixture]. 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 [Note: I chose not to re-roll my scraps and instead baked them in an even layer for about 20 minutes.  Once cooled, I ground them in a food processor, for use in pie crusts].

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each cracker.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Allow to cool slightly on baking sheets and then transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool completely.


  1. Nicely done. I want to try making my own grahm crackers. For some reason, you cant buy them here in the UK.
    *kisses* HH

  2. HH: you'll have to let me know if you become as addicted to the homemade version as I have :o)


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