Here’s the honest truth: I started this blog elsewhere. And then my camera had to be serviced. And then I returned to school for spring term. And then there was homework, and watching movies, and by the time I got my camera back, it was halfway through the semester, and not only had I not updated a blog for three months, I was now unsatisfied (after looking at sites like Smitten Kitchen, and Food in Jars) with the layout and the trouble of the hosting site I was using. So…several MORE months went by (and then I started working at our Tech Services, which incidentally has a blog here), and here I am. So…while I would love to tell you that I come with hosts of recipes and pictures, alas, I don’t. The recipes part, yes. The pictures part…well, that fell behind a bit. And I mean a lot. So I’m catching up. But first, I have to transfer the two (yes, I know) recipes I had posted on my last blog, the first being the exceptional Graham Crackers recipe that Deb has on her site. (Deb, who I maybe worship a little bit. In a totally uncreepy way). So, now, we’re off to the races!
For the record, I wasn’t in the slightest bit prepared when I started this recipe. Thus, while Deb’s recipe calls for a number of things, I didn’t have, like, any of them. So…I’m going to give you her recipe, with my additions/alterations in italics.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup plus two tablespoons whole wheat flour (optional; Deb recommends pastry flour, which I didn’t have, and it is also doable to use only all-purpose flour)
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed: I had to use light brown sugar, as it was all we had (see how my ingredients tend to be sparse? I always recommend that you use whatever you have on hand, rather than making lots of trips to the store), and they did not suffer from it!
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 a teaspoon salt: Deb calls for 3/4 of a teaspoon of coarse sea salt, but again…I’m not fancy! I assumed that this meant that there wasn’t actually as much salt because it’s coarser, so I cut down how much salt I used.
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen: Okay, I had another oopsie here: I didn’t look over the recipe beforehand (lesson learned) and didn’t know it had to be frozen. Fortunately, it had been sitting in my refrigerator for quite a while, and using it from the refrigerator worked quite well).
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover: Once again, something we didn’t have! My family likes strongly flavored honey, so I used orange-blossom honey. While I still enjoy the crackers, I do think this strengthens the flavor; at school, my roommates and I have a very mild honey made from starthistle, which I think would work better.
5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best: Don’t come after me with your spatulas, but we didn’t have full-fat milk either. We virtually only ever have skim milk on hand, and this not only increased the healthiness of this project, but I can’t tell a difference. Maybe other milk enthusiasts could, but I still think they’re delicious.
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Topping: (This I did do, for reference, although in the future, I would halve the quantities)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
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. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.]
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. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside. I would NOT recommend this last step. Refrigeration makes this dough extremely difficult to work with. MAYBE chill it for half and hour. Once it is chilled, however, it takes quite a while to become malleable, and during the process of rolling them out for cutting, it is easy to get wildly different thickneses of dough.
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. I rolled the dough out and then used a serrated knife to cut them into (approximately) two inch x two inch squares. Deb gives other options, although I found that these bake very well (and are easy to cover in chocolate, for those of us who love a chocolate-dipped graham cracker). You can also use cookie cutters (I made heart-shaped crackers for my family) to cut the dough.
Place the crackers on one or two 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 and re-roll.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
After chilling the crackers, use a toothpick or skewer to prick the dough to form four dotted rows length x width.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Mine cooked in about twenty minutes, but I also had very different thicknesses of crackers, so it is importan to check as they bake; it may also be necessary to remove some from the oven but allow others to continue cooking.