crackers. not the trucker-hat-wearing, acid-washed-levis sportin', trailer-dwelling, shotgun toting, mulleted kind, but the other, tastier, much more edible type.
i didn't think people really made crackers. so thin, so crispy, so cute and usually so little, i figured this was a task reserved soley for the miniature and dexterous hands of the keebler elves. with a pair of size fourteen man-hands i was fit only for drop cookies and dumplings.
but then i saw this recipe for graham crackers from nic over at bakingsheet. it didn't sound too terribly difficult and to my knowledge she is a mere mortal. so i gave it a whirl and you know what, they turned out great. i mean, they actually tasted like graham crackers. and the ones that i used a cookie cutter on turned out so very cute. little hearts. little gingerbread man shapes. little bunnyrabbits. the ones i free-handed into the more traditional rectangular shapes were a bit less pleasing to the eye. not quite as uniform...some, inadvertently stretched the boundaries of the definition of a rectangle. rectacylindriconal, more like.
traditional graham cracker recipes require the use of graham flour, a somewhat obscure and difficult item to find. graham flour was invented by sylvester graham a minister and advocate of vegetarianism, temperance, regular bathing (!) and the use of whole grain flours. graham flour differs from whole wheat flour in that the whole grain is not ground up all at once but rather separated out into two components. the endosperm, which is the stuff of white flour is finely ground. the bran and the germ together are coarsely ground. then the two flours are mixed back together resulting in a flour that bakes well and retains a coarse and nutty texture. if you can't find graham flour, just use wheat flour as specified in the recipe. you could sprinkle a little wheat germ in there as well.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 /2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup earth balance margarine
2 Tablespoons agave nectar (or honey or brown rice syrup)
2 Tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon and sugar mixture for sprinkling on top (optional)
place the flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. cut small cubes of the margarine in with the flour mixture and pulse for about another 30 seconds until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. in another bowl combine the wet ingredients and whisk until combined. pour into the flour-margarine mixture and process until the dough starts to clump. this should take less than a minute. you may need to add a bit more water since i reduced the amount of margarine in the original recipe from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup (i added about 2 T. more water). remove dough from processor and divide into two balls. roll each ball out between two pieces of waxed paper until it is very thin (1/8") and chill until firm. this is make it easier to handle the dough when you cut the shapes and transfer to a baking sheet. i placed mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes. with a sharp knife cut the crackers into 2" squares and place on a parchment lined (or pan sprayed nonstick) baking sheet. you can also cut out cute shapes and re-roll the scrapes to make more fun shapes (re-rolling didn't appear to have any negative effect on the dough). stab the dough with a fork or toothpick to give it that characteristic graham cracker look. sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture if using and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. cool and store in an airtight container.