Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was one of those perfect summer weekends you remember for a lifetime – spent with Parker’s family, most of whom I met for the first time but felt like I had known forever, at the most beautiful and welcoming lake house in the North Georgia mountains. The kind of summer day you wish you could have over and over, playing in the water, enjoying the sunshine, scenery, and good company. Perfection!
This recipe is one that would be perfect to bring to a summer campfire – homemade graham crackers! Once you have these, you’ll have a hard time ever buying store-bought again. They’re so delicious, have just the right amount of spice, and when you bake them for just the right amount of time, have the most pleasant crunchy but not hard, slightly chewy texture. These guys make the pre-made graham crackers taste like cardboard. Oh, and they’re really not difficult to make either! Yes, buying a package from the grocery is about as easy as it gets, but these can be whipped together in about 20 minutes active time (this doesn’t include the dough chilling or baking) and can be kept for a week or so in the pantry or months if frozen.
One of the things I like most about these is that you know exactly what goes in to them. I looked at a box of the regular Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers and found partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list (which, interestingly, they do not list in their ingredients on their website) which is a trans fat – the absolute worst kind of fat, and most dangerous for our bodies, especially our hearts. The label says 0g of trans fat on their nutritional facts label, but that just means there is less than .5g per serving, which is 2 crackers – if a serving was listed as 3 crackers, they would likely not be able to claim a trans fat-free product. And graham crackers are often a staple in children’s diets!
Okay, I’ll step down off the soapbox now :) Needless to say, there are usually always benefits to making your own versions of many things you can conveniently purchase in stores, and this is no exception. These graham crackers (which, let’s be honest are more like less-sweet cookies) taste better, are better for you, and isn’t it just fun to make things yourself? Bring these to a campfire with marshmallows and chocolate and you’ll be everyone’s favorite person this summer. :)
One of the great things that makes these so easy is that you can whip them together in the food processor. I had never made dough in a food processor before, but I may never use my stand mixer to make dough again. It comes together so much faster and tends to not over-knead the dough – overall, it just works better. You stop the food processor when the dough forms a ball(ish) and when you pull it out, it’s the perfect consistency.
Oh, also – a lot of recipes for graham crackers call for graham flour, which is really difficult to find these days. If you can find it, you can omit using wheat germ and wheat bran, but I couldn’t find it anywhere so I improvised and came up with this recipe that I love.
Like any rolled dough, you’ll want to pat it in to a 1″ thick disc and refrigerate before rolling for best results. Also, this kind of dough is sticky and you don’t want to mess up the final product by flouring your surface – just roll between two sheets of wax paper and you’ll have no trouble at all.
I have found that when making crackers, it’s so easy and stress-free to roll out between wax paper, cut with a pizza cutter, then flip the whole thing over on to your baking sheet before carefully peeling back the paper. Trying to peel off each individual cracker and then placing on to the baking sheet is time consuming and usually gets you messy edges. (I first learned this when making these delicious grain-free crackers.) Another tip: if your dough has warmed up during the rolling and cutting process, stick it back in the fridge (rolled out on the paper) for a few minutes before flipping over on to your baking sheet. This just makes it easier to work with.
Give these a shot and see how yummy these puppies really are. If you do try the recipe, be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments. Also, I always respond to questions so don’t hesitate to ask if you have one!
One last note about making these: I used a kitchen scale to measure out all ingredients when coming up with this recipe, but have provided standard measurements below in case you don’t have a kitchen scale. I highly recommend using the scale for this recipe though to achieve best results. The easiest way I’ve found to use the scale is to place the food processor bowl on the scale (I have a digital one) and reset it to 0 each time before adding an ingredient. This way, I get the exact measurement and I never have to use a measuring cup!
Homemade Graham Crackers
244 grams all purpose flour (or 2 cups) – if you can find graham flour, you can use all graham flour, or 1 3/4 cups graham flour + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
21 grams wheat germ (or 3 Tablespoons)
21 grams wheat bran (or 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon)
85 grams dark brown sugar (or 1/2 cup)
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (aluminum-free is better for you and tastes better, but you can use regular)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in to 1″ cubes – keep in fridge until ready to use
32 grams honey (or 2 Tablespoons)
32 grams molasses (or 2 Tablespoons)
42 grams milk (or 1/4 cup) – whole or 2% milk works best
1. In a food processor, combine all dry ingredients (flour, wheat germ, wheat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon) and pulse until mixture resembles course meal, about 10-12 pulses.
2. Add wet ingredients (cold butter, honey, molasses, milk) and process until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. It may look like it’s not going to get to this stage, but give it a few more seconds, and all of a sudden you’ll notice it’s all formed together and will have trouble going around in the food processor. This means it’s done!
3. Spread out a sheet of cling wrap and pat dough in to a 1″ to 1.5″ thick disk, cover and refrigerate about 20-30 minutes.
4. After dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350, lightly grease baking dish, and tear two pieces of wax paper for dough to be rolled out between.
5. Place dough on wax paper, pat down slightly, cover with second sheet of wax paper and roll out with rolling pin. Turn and flip over consistently to get evenly rolled out dough. Also peel off and replace paper if it’s creating creases underneath.
Tip: if your dough is bleeding over the edges of the paper, separate in to two batches and roll separately.
Another tip: If your paper is sliding all over your counter, place a damp paper towel or dish cloth underneath.
6. Roll out as thin as you possibly can – about 1/8″. These are crackers, not cookies, and they will rise in the oven so you want them thin, thin, thin.
7. Remove top layer of parchment and cut 2″ squares. Poke holes in the middle with a skewer.
8. If dough has warmed up by this point and is not as sturdy as it was when you took it out of the refrigerator, place in fridge for a few minutes to firm back up.
9. Lift your wax-paper and dough over baking sheet and carefully but swiftly, flip dough over on to baking surface. Slowly peel paper back and slide crackers around on surface, leaving very little space between.
10. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crackers are just starting to brown around the edges. They will probably be (and should be) still a tad bit fough-y and undercooked at this point. Take them out of the oven and allow them to continue baking on the sheet while cooling. If you wait to take them out of the oven when they are completely cooked, they will be overdone by the time they cool (this is true for any cookie!).
11. Once cool, or at least cool enough to touch, move to a plate or cooling rack and enjoy!
Store in an airtight container (or ziplock bag) for up to a week (maybe longer, they’ve never lasted that long in my house!) or freeze for 3-4 months.