Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

The Graham Cracker Chronicles

on July 12, 2016

I’m not the first to attempt this. Google “homemade graham crackers” and you will get many versions, some claiming that you need to look no further…so-and-so has got it all figured out. Well, in my humble opinion…they have not. Shockingly, every version I saw online starts with butter, and a lot of it! (*Buzzer noise*) No way. Graham crackers would never have butter. Sorry, gourmands…peddle your moist, rich cookies elsewhere. Graham crackers’ signature feature is their dry crispness.

Round One. Aren’t these gorgeous? Yep…far too good to be considered graham crackers.

Having just enough baking theory under my belt to be dangerous (but probably woefully inept), I did something I’ve dreamed of doing: I consulted the box of Organic Erewhon graham crackers and wrote down the ingredients as a starting point to my own concoction. They were: wheat flour (which means white ’cause it’s not “whole”), whole wheat graham flour, dried cane syrup, vegetable oils (safflower or sunflower), honey, molasses, leavening (baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate), sea salt, cream of tartar. These differ only slightly from the box of Honey Grahams everyone has in their cupboard.

I compiled dry and wet ingredients separately, using all whole wheat flour—half regular whole wheat, and half whole wheat pastry flour. They are made from different types of wheat. The regular whole wheat flour is as close to graham flour (more coarsely milled) as I could get with organic ingredients, and it turns out to be just fine. I chose coconut oil and guessing high at 1/2 cup (for 2 cups of flour). I used regular sugar and only a tiny bit of molasses due to an earlier experiment which told me too much molasses can change the personality of a cookie quickly.

Knowing that I wanted these to aerate as much as possible to get crispy, and noting that the boxed crackers used ammonium bicarbonate, a.k.a. hartshorn, I investigated getting some of that, but thought that the irritating ammonia gases produced during baking might not be something I’d want in the house with the girls. I haven’t totally ruled it out though for future experimenting. I could bake with it while they are napping, perhaps. Hartshorn is apparently still the leavening of choice for certain crispy European and Scandinavian cookies, but is harder to find here in the U.S.

I ended up adding a significant amount of water to the dough to mix it well. The dough was greasy (I knew I had too much oil to begin with!) but rolled out nicely and produced delicious cookies with a graham-crackery flavor, but of course way too moist and cookie-like!

Round Two. Not as photogenic but they are far closer to real graham crackers in flavor and texture.

Second round I subbed in brown sugar for the white sugar + molasses, as the original molasses amount (1/2 teaspoon) was so scant anyway, it’s actually hard to measure less. I changed the leavenings, reduced the oil to 3 tablespoons and increased water to 1/2 cup. I rolled them thinner, reduced the oven temp and the results were much closer: even more authentic graham cracker flavor, but still too moist and/or chewy, depending on oven time.

Still working on it! As of July 2016, this post was a draft laying around for years now. Thought I’d throw it up there, but sorry…don’t have the final recipe yet.


2 responses to “The Graham Cracker Chronicles

  1. Cynthia says:

    Oh, this is so much fun! You make me want to run to my kitchen! Suggestion — look at a traditional cracker recipe to see how crispness might be achieved. I’m guessing lower oven temps, less oil — in fact, maybe no oil — maybe just graham flour (whole wheat) plus molasses plus honey plus water plus leavening? I also seem to recall that crackers get a lot of pokes with a fork to keep them from rising and forming air bubbles.

    • Janet S says:

      They do. The holes are key. And also, an old leavening product made with aluminum was tried (yeesh…not a great idea, but I had to know). There were many more rounds made, and all had some problems. I’ll shoot over the ingreds if I find my notes, and we’ll see if we an figure it out together. 🙂

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