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more successful times

January 08 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 22 comments

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It’s been one of those weeks.  On Sunday night, I let a pot of lentil soup bubble too long.  So long in fact that the would-be soup reached the point where the deepest layer of lentils fused themselves to the  pot (my very favorite pot, it should be noted).   Kevin braved the grocery store on Monday night but it had apparently been ransacked over the weekend, leaving his success rate with the ingredients on his list hovering at around 50 percent.  (Out of chicken?  Really?)  On Wednesday, the bacon for the B.L.T.’s blackened and the popcorn for the movies singed, which nearly ruined the night, but there was more bacon and more popcorn and, really, any Wednesday night that involves B.L.T.’s and the movies can’t really be that bad.  Last night, I gently toasted some walnuts on the stovetop and then turned off the flame.  Or I thought I turned off the flame, until a waft of the unmistakable scent of charred walnuts proved me wrong.

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So let’s turn back the clock to these graham crackers, shall we?  Actually, we’ll have to flip the calendar back to December—all the way back to the last decade.   Simpler times.  Or, at the very least, more successful times in the kitchen.

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These graham crackers came to be on the afternoon of the 30th, after I left work early vowing not to bill a single hour more at work during 2009.  We’d leave for our long-weekend in Arizona the next morning and I could think of no better way to start my vacation than by busying myself in the kitchen.  (I have an odd relationship with “rest.”)

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And I knew just what recipe would keep me company–the recipe for graham crackers from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft of Baking, one of several glossy, new cookbooks that waited for me beneath my parents’ Christmas tree.  I’d never made my own graham crackers (and, in fact, I quite love the boxed variety that is perfectly available on the supermarket shelves (so long as you weren’t shopping last Monday night at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods; ahem)) and it sounded like a neat project (the results of which would keep while we were away for the weekend).

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And neat, I think, is just the word.  Who-d-a-thought you could make graham crackers in your very own kitchen?  That you could create the firm, dry, shortbread-ish dough smelling of honey and cinnamon, then roll it out into a thin sheet which gets halved and quartered and eighthed into small squares and, finally, pierce each square with tiny holes delivered by the tines of your fork?  Really, it’s as easy as that.  And they’re cute and delicious (more buttery and salty than the boxed kinds, in just the right amounts) and completely worth the effort (though I will still hold a soft spot for the supermarket variety).  Best of all, they didn’t burn.  So when things went awry this week (again and again and again), we turned to these little treats for solace.

Graham Crackers
Adapted very slightly from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft of Baking, via NPR

My adaptation was only to the shape of the cracker’s.  As printed, the recipe would produce 1.5″ x 3″ rectangle crackers, but I like the look of these square crackers, scored in half to resemble the supermarket variety.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey

In a bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. In two additions, add the dry ingredients, letting the first fully incorporate before you add the second.

Flatten the dough into a rectangular shape, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or up to 2 days. (The dough can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Unwrap the chilled dough, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a ruler and a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 3-by-3-inch squares; use a spatula to transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheets as you go. Reroll the scraps of dough once, and cut out more cookies. Using a paring kninfe, gently score each square to create a line down the middle, taking care not to cut all the way through the dough.  Using a fork, pierce each rectangle with two rows of six to eight marks.

Bake the graham crackers, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

The graham crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

22 comments so far. »
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  1. Shannalee says on January 08 2010 at 10:40 am:

    Oh, I have had many weeks like those – at least you’re getting it out of the way at the beginning of the year, right? Onward to better things! Or backward as the case may be, at least with this crackers. They look lovely.

  2. Megsie says on January 08 2010 at 11:22 am:

    I am so glad to hear that you burn things… It makes me feel NORMAL. These crackers look like fun to make, have you tried them for s’mores?

  3. Julia (Color Me Green) says on January 08 2010 at 11:33 am:

    yes! one of my goals this year is to create s’mores with homemade graham crackers & marshmallows and quality dark chocolate. thanks!

    burning pots is the worst when they’re ruined forever. i feel you :-(

  4. bright and blithe says on January 08 2010 at 11:44 am:

    I am, at this very moment, avoiding a kettle with the contents charred to the bottom on my stovetop. I’m hoping the overnight baking soda soak will be my salvation.

    We consume and inordinate amount of graham crackers around here – usually smothered in Knudsen’s Organic Apple Butter – a guilt-free pleasure. I’d love to make my own. Marking for later…

  5. Paula says on January 08 2010 at 12:24 pm:

    What fantastic timing! I have a friend who’s trying to get away from processed foods and she wanted to know how to make graham crackers. I’ll send her your blog!

  6. Whitney says on January 08 2010 at 5:24 pm:

    I hope your kitchen karma comes back! Love the look of these little crackers.

  7. jen says on January 08 2010 at 8:21 pm:

    I ALWAYS BURN NUTS. like, it’s impossible for me not to.

  8. Nic says on January 08 2010 at 11:29 pm:

    Mmmmm! They look yummy, and I bet they smelled that way too. But I’m puzzled by the ingredient list, specifically the flours. Since whole wheat pastry flour is, in essence, Graham flour (the terms are interchangable as I understand it), why would a recipe for Graham crackers call for anything other than that? I only ask because I hate using white flour, even the unbleached kind if I can avoid it.

    And to Bright and Blithe…ooooh, Knudsen’s Apple Butter is THE best! So spicy-sweet!

  9. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on January 09 2010 at 7:16 am:

    Shanna: Oh, thank you for that positive outlook! I was starting to think this was all a bad omen for 2010. I like your view better. : )

    Megsie: No, but I think it’d be fun to give homemade marshmallows a try.

    Julia: Now THAT is a resolution I can get behind. : )

    bright & blithe: Good luck with your pot. (Thankfully, mine lived to see another day.) Hope you give these a try!

    Paula: Please do!

    Whitney: Thank you! Made a great dinner last night, though the butterscotch pudding was a fail. Small steps …

    jen: It’s the worst.

    Nic: If you give these a try using all WW flour, let us know how it works.

  10. kate says on January 09 2010 at 8:08 am:

    Those do look amazing. I am dreaming blissfully of an all-scratch S’more with a nice square of fluffy marshmallow and this delightful cracker. Scratch marshmallows don’t get the scorched brown walls that a supermarket variety do, unfortunately, at least those that I’ve made have not. But then, the flavor is so superior that one may never notice.

    Here’s to more focus in 2010. Culinary disasters are no way to start a new year.

  11. Andrea [bella eats] says on January 09 2010 at 11:54 am:

    I’ve had graham crackers on my “to bake” list for some time now, but hadn’t found a recipe to try yet. Thank you for sharing! And no worries about an off week in the kitchen, it happens to us all. :)

  12. Barbara says on January 09 2010 at 2:13 pm:

    Been wanting to make these forever. Just looking at your photos and reading the recipe is impetus enough for me to try! And then perhaps some homemade marshmallows???

    Don’t worry, you’ll get your kitchen mojo back. It happens to everyone.

  13. Devon says on January 09 2010 at 6:28 pm:

    You must have a lot on your mind. That’s the surest cause of the burnts.

  14. Julia says on January 10 2010 at 10:18 am:

    Graham crackers. Brilliant!

  15. Chiot's Run says on January 11 2010 at 7:08 am:

    I have always wanted to make graham crackers, I just never remember until too late. I must make these soon!

  16. Elizabeth says on January 11 2010 at 8:28 am:

    In a pinch, my mom used to make cookies for our school lunches that were simple graham crackers with peanut butter frosting (peanut butter, powdered sugar, milk) in between. You let them chill to harden and they are insanely good. I bet that would be divine with these grahams!

  17. Hannah says on January 11 2010 at 4:58 pm:

    I know those sort of weeks well. They are so frustrating, but I love when you get something like this at the end – so perfect.

  18. ingrid says on January 13 2010 at 12:40 pm:

    Homemade graham crackers are one of those things I’ve been wanting to make. Thanks for reminding me. Sorry to hear about your recent kitchen mishaps. :) Hope your mojo’s back soon.

    Btw, do you recommend that cookbook? I’ve looked at it briefly but was waiting to see to see a review of it. Thank you.
    ~ingrid

  19. [...] wheat than unbleached all-purpose flour, which I liked, but I’ve also seen those proportions swapped, if you’d [...]

  20. Lee Ann Foster says on January 23 2010 at 10:05 am:

    Dear Kristin,

    Thank you, via Tracy … inspired to make these.

    Thank you Lee Ann.

  21. Erin Zackey says on February 24 2010 at 9:15 pm:

    Ooo, I just made these with the kids, yum, thanks! ;)

  22. MsSeaGypsy says on January 30 2012 at 9:45 am:

    put about a half cup of white vinegar and hot water in that pan and let it soak for awhile. I’m an expert burner.

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