Sunday, April 25, 2010

Graham Crackers

I was so excited to get Nancy Silverton's Pastries book, but I have to tell you honestly that it's been a pretty disappointing book so far.  I've made a couple of recipes including the disastrous donuts (that was mostly my fault for using whole wheat pastry flour). And while my kids liked the donuts, I wasn't really fond of the flavor profile.  I also made her Pretty Pear Cookies, which I almost posted under the title "My ugly version of Nancy's pretty pear cookies"  and holy smokes, those were an ALL DAY project for some really bland and tasteless cookies that I threw out.  Her book has no pictures, and while I am pretty good at following recipes without pictures, HER recipes NEED pictures to understand the sometimes vague and confusing instructions. A lot of her recipes require special equipment that most home cooks wouldn't stock in their kitchen like flan rings and cake rings, and not just one, but EIGHT for one recipe (at about $12.00 a piece through a wholesale restaraunt supply store)!!!!  NOT happening!   But anyway, enough ranting about what I don't like about this book, and onto a recipe that I do like.
THIS is a good recipe.  And?  I was able to use up some of that pesky whole wheat pastry flour...woo hoo!  She does say that she prefers the flavor of these crackers using unbleached all-purpose flour or pastry flour, but 1/2 of it can be substituted with whole wheat, so I did.  Also, I will list the directions as they were written, but I chose to make my crackers smaller because I am ultimately working my way to making amazing raspberry chocolate S'mores with these and I wanted them bite size.  I originally made them into 2 inch squares, but found them hard to manage because they soften up so quickly.  I ended up using a round scalloped edge biscuit cutter and worked quickly and they turned out great.  I made two batches because we ate up the first batch before the S'mores could be made.  I also found that these are better the next day.  The graham flavor really develops after a day...if you can keep them away from your kids, or in my case, away from myself.
Graham Crackers:
from the cookbook, Nancy Silvertons's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 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 flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate.  Add the butter and pulse on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
  • 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.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  • To prepare teh topping:  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  • 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.  Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches 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.  Gather the scraps together and set aside.  Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with topping.  Chill until firm, about 30-45 minutes.  Repeat with the second batch of dough.
  • Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll.  Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers. 
  • Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough.  Using a toothpick or a skewar, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 from each side of the middle dividing line.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
The mixture in the food processor

Flattened out on a board before chilling
How I cut my first batch.  I used a round biscuit cutter for the second batch and that was easier.


  1. We don't have graham crackers in Australia but I am tempted to make some when I need them for a cheesecake base or something.

  2. i really related to your post and thx for your honest review of the book bc i was considering purchasing it. i had nearly the exact same experience w/an established baker's cookbook (which had received tons of acclaim). the recipe seems like a good way to use up that WWPF on my end too!

  3. Mark, I had s'mores and a cheesecake in mind when I made these. The s'mores have been made, but I can't bear to crush them up for crust! They are too tasty:)

    I'm glad I'm not the only one with WWPF issues! I still have a whole lot of it what are we going to make next? Let me know if you come up with some new ideas;D

  4. Mmmmm graham crackers! I love them, these look great!


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