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.
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.
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.”)
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).
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.
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.