Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Graham Crackers

I've linked to graham cracker recipes before, but I've never offered a tutorial on actually baking them. The process is fairly simple given you invest in a cheap package of flexible cutting sheets. I can't say enough wonderful things about them as a product. For rolling-out very soft, tricky dough, they are a must have. I've put them to excellent use for everything from pie crusts to wet bread doughs.
I also use silicone pads on my baking sheets (I've had them for fifteen years and they show no sign of wear) that I bought at a commercial baking supply wholesaler in the North End of Boston. They were well worth the expense (and the price has come down considerably in recent years).
Other useful items are a thin spatula for lifting the unbaked crackers off the cutting board, and a sharp paring knife for trimming the dough. Other than that, it is really a simple matter of mixing up the dough in the food processor (how easy is that?) rolling it out, chilling and baking. You can do that, can't you? Did I mention these are really good graham crackers?
I chose to cut some in shapes because I'm at the point where if I keep compulsively purchasing cute cookie cutters I'm going to need to start using them or risk looking frivolous. OK, I already appear frivolous, but at least my frivolity isn't expensive jewelry.
You Will Need:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mild molasses
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a food processor,mix the dry ingredients (about 5 seconds). Add the butter and process until a coarse meal (10-15 seconds).
Add the rest and process until everything comes together into a ball (about a minute at high speed). You may need a few drops of additional water, but go carefully a drop at a time as you do not want the dough too wet-you will be unable to roll it out.
On a plastic cutting board (or a regular one between two pieces of waxed paper-much more difficult in my opinion) roll out half the dough until it is quite thin 1/8 inch thick. If you can't get it that thin, don't despair, it can be further rolled after it has chilled a bit.
If you can't seem to get a perfect rectangle (no one can, really) go ahead and use a sharp knife to trim it into shape and then re-work the dough into the main slab. You may need to do this a couple times, and as you aren't rolling out on flour and toughening the dough, it is OK-though you don't want to handle it to death.
Repeat on a second cutting board.
Place cutting boards (or waxed paper) on cookie sheets and set in the icebox to chill at least two hours. The longer you go, the simpler it will be to cut and lift them off the boards.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a thin knife, or a cookie cutter, cut the dough into desired shapes. Pierce with the tines of a fork. Place on either parchment paper or silicone pads and bake 10 minutes. Turn the sheet and bake an additional 2-5 minutes or until the edges turn lightly browned.
Remove to a rack to cool. The graham crackers will crisp upon cooling.
I find they keep well in a tightly sealed plastic zipper bag. The crackers also take well to being dipped in chocolate (a favourite of my mother-in-law's) and they ship well.

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