Friday, February 5, 2010
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.
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.
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.