One of the many snack staples in my household are graham crackers. My husband can often be found “sneaking” one at random hours, and seems to enjoy them equally well plain, dipped in chocolate, or layered with hazelnut spread. Like many packaged snacks, though, I’ve long been curious about what would be involved in making them from scratch. Graham crackers always seemed vaguely obscure and challenging, though. Surely they require some specialty ingredient that I’ll never use again for anything else?
Some quick research did educate me on the inimitable Rev. Sylvester Graham, who advocated nearly 200 years ago for the use of whole grains (among many other things). I’m not sure he would exactly embrace the graham crackers of today, especially those with honey sweetness and cinnamon-sugar action, but perhaps he’d just be honored that one of his namesake foodstuffs is still kicking it in the average American home.
In any event, if you, too, would like to try this at home, Smitten Kitchen once again does not disappoint, having already done all the research for us and landed upon this lovely homemade graham cracker recipe, originally from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. It requires no graham flour nor any other especially unique ingredient, yet still produces a crispy, sweet, cookie-fied cracker with the recognizable graham cracker snap. Plus they are just incredibly fun to make. Admittedly a bit time-consuming, as the dough is very sticky and must be chilled several times, but if you plan ahead these are perfect for making in stages on a lazy weekend day.
Now go bake a batch and smear them with chocolate to your heart’s content. I swear I’ll pretend not to notice. 😉
DIY Graham Crackers
Yield approximately 4 dozen squares
For the crackers:
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. kosher or coarse sea salt
- 7 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
- 1/3 cup mild honey
- 5 tbsp. whole milk
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 1 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- To make the dough, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse to incorporate. Add the butter cubes and continue pulsing in short bursts until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (The dough can also be made in a stand mixer or by hand with a pastry cutter, just be sure to blend thoroughly to get the coarse meal texture.)
- Combine the honey, milk, and vanilla extract in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk carefully to blend. Add liquid ingredients to the food processor along with the flour mixture. Process until the dough just comes together; it will be very sticky and soft. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, pat into a disc about 1 inch thick, wrap tightly, and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to bake, whisk the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge, divide in half, and return the portion you are not working with to the fridge to stay cold. Generously flour a work surface and roll your portion of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will still be sticky, so reflour it, the work surface, and rolling pin as needed. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters or a pastry wheel, and transfer cut crackers to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1-2 inches apart. Repeat with additional dough and scraps, being sure to keep what you are not currently using in the fridge.
- Once the baking sheets are full, transfer them to the fridge or freezer so that the graham crackers can chill once again until firm, 30-45 minutes in the fridge or 15-20 minutes in the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the crackers are chilled, decorate as desired. For a traditional look, you can use a knife to imprint a vertical line down the middle of each (just be careful not to cut through the dough), or use the blunt end of a wooden skewer to poke dotted patterns.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until crackers are lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture, and let the crackers cool briefly on the pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Source: Smitten Kitchen