There was once a girl who loved a good cracker.
A cracker for snacking.
A cracker for dessert.
A cracker for eating alongside a glass of milk.
And then one day she moved to a new land. A land without a proper tradition of cracker- eating. A land that confused a bread with a cake, a cake with a cookie, and a cookie with a cracker. A land without a decent cracker.
And so the girl went to work.
She baked what is known to her people as animal crackers. Sweet and crisp and vanilla-flavored. But they were not good, these crackers. They were not even ok.
And so the girl threw all of her mishap crackers in the garbage and found a new direction, a new recipe. The girl baked what is known to her people as graham crackers. Sweetened with honey and brown sugar, perfect for covering with cream cheese, peanut butter, or nothing at all. And the crackers were good. And the girl shared her crackers with the chubby-fingered kid living in her home. And the two shared a plate of crackers one afternoon and got crumbs on the floor and smiled at one another the way only two people in a land without graham crackers can smile at one another- like they’ve got something good and they aren’t going to share it.
Graham crackers, my friends. I know that a lot of you probably have a box of them in your cupboards at this very moment. And some of you might ask yourself, why might I bother myself making graham crackers from scratch? I guess my answer to you, is that homemade graham crackers taste really good. They’re just a little bit crisper, a little bit deeper-flavored, and a little bit less full of partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and high fructose corn syrup. Ok, a lot less. I don’t tend to keep those things stocked in my cupboard. Do you?
And by the way, if you’re a of a major dork like myself and feel like reading a bit about the history of the graham cracker, check this out. I know it sounds like the last thing you want to do on a Friday night, but I do not lie when I say risqué phrases like, “carnal urges” are used. It's really quite interesting.
Recipe adapted from 101cookbooks
Makes 10- large rectangular or 40- small square crackers
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) graham flour (or, an additional 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour)
1 cup (175 g) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces/100 g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (80 ml) mild-flavored honey
5 tablespoons milk (whole is recommended, I used reduced-fat and they turned out just fine)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. 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, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. 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.
2. 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.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a two rectangles, about 1- inch (2 cm) thick. Wrap each in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
4. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll one of the doughs into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch (1/4 cm) thick- it will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches (9 cm) wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers (alternately, measure out 2 inch x 2 inch (5 cm x 5 cm) squares for smaller crackers). Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.
6. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch (1 cm) for each side of the dividing line.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Careful not to burn! Feed to kind children and nostalgic adults.