Saturday, July 17, 2010

Graham Crackers

So, summer means hiking, and hiking means good hiking snacks. Luckily, I have just discovered the smorgasbord of food blogs, sharing with me delicious treats to make. (My favorite waste of time It is a collection of the Web's best food pictures, updated constantly.) There are tons of recipes that you can make from scratch.
   One I just discovered is graham crackers, which are also a great hiking food. I am headed out on a trip where I will be doing a lot of hiking. Thus, it is time for graham crackers. These crackers surprisingly taste like, well, graham crackers. I love them because of the sea salt that you add. It gives this kick of saltiness that I always love combined with sweet flavors. The key thing with these crackers is to make them thin. They aren't as crunchy and crumbly if they aren't thin. Enjoy!

Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (can swap 1/2 cup for whole wheat flour, or 1 cup for whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

1. Pulse the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to incorporate. If you don't have a processor, like me, you can whisk it together. Add the butter and pulse on and off, on and off until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. At this point, I used a hand mixer. It took some work, but I got it done.

 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 soft, sticky dough barely comes together.

3.  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.

4.  Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator.
5.  Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (thinner is better). The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut the dough into 2″ squares using a fluted cookie cutter or rolling cutter.

6.  Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
8.  Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the crackers with a fork or wooden skewer, then bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through. The cracker will not seem completely firm, but will harden as it cools. You might want to test out a few crackers to see what time works best for you.

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