I’ve been thinking a lot about graham crackers lately. They’re so handy. And good. This past summer, they would have been great for s’mores. And as I ponder the upcoming baking season, I think they would be handy for cheesecake crusts. And, they’re always nice to have around as a snack.
Originally, graham crackers were made from graham flour, which is a combination of fine-ground white flour and coarse-ground wheat bran and germ. They have an interesting history. Apparently, the Reverend Sylvester Graham, who lived in Connecticut during the late 18th century through the middle 19th century, was an early advocate for dietary reform. He promoted vegetarianism, temperance, and eschewed additives in food (yes, even then), all in order to curb lust (!?). Graham crackers were part of the diet he developed. Originally, they were not nearly as sweet as modern graham crackers and were considered bland. They were kind of a mix between a savory cracker and a sweet cookie (info from Wikipedia, graham crackers). Nowadays, they are mostly made with whole wheat flour.
Anyway, over the years, I’ve played with various recipes for making gluten-free graham crackers. The recipe below is the happy result this experimentation–it makes great crackers! I quite pleased with it because it tastes good and stays crisp. It uses part white flour and part whole wheat flour. To mimic this, my adaptation uses part Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix, and part sorghum flour (also known as jowar). Sorghum flour is a whole grain flour and is slightly sweet. It’s heavier and a bit more coarse than rice or tapioca flours. For all of these reasons, I’ve chosen sorghum flour to replace the whole wheat flour in the recipe.
Graham Crackers, Gluten-Free
Yield: about 40 2-inch square crackers
1 1/4 cups (175 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
1 cup (120 g) sweet sorghum flour (also called jowar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (105 g) packed dark brown sugar
1/2/ cup (1 stick; 4 oz; 115 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-6 tablespoons ice water
extra tapioca flour for dusting
In the bowl of a food processor, place flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to mix (or mix in a large bowl with a pastry cutter). Sprinkle the brown sugar over the flour mix and pulse a few times to mix. Make sure the brown sugar is evenly distributed.
Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add honey and pulse a few more times to combine. Add vanilla, pulse to combine.
Add water a tablespoon at a time, pulse to combine after each addition–add more as needed until you have a stiff dough that holds together smoothly and is not “shaggy”.
Divide the dough into two portions. Wrap one portion well in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out while you’re rolling the second portion. Sprinkle the top and bottom of the dough with a bit of tapioca flour and roll out between two pieces of wax paper until the dough is about 1/8 inch/.33 cm thick (the thinner the dough, the more crisp the crackers). The dough is sticky, so you may need to add more tapioca flour in order to stop the dough from sticking to the waxed paper.
Place the rolled out dough (still between the two piece of waxed paper) into refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.
Repeat rolling and refrigeration process with the second portion.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Once the dough is firm, take out the first rolled-out portion. Working quickly but carefully (you don’t want the dough to warm up too much), use a fluted, square cookie cutter in the size of your choice to cut out the crackers. Carefully place each cracker onto a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. With a fork, gently prick each cracker with a 3 rows of holes down the center to look like a commercial graham cracker. Do not prick all the way through the dough–just prick to the middle of the dough to create the pattern.
Re-roll the dough between the sheets of wax paper and repeat the cutting, transfer, and pricking process until all the dough is used. Monitor the temperature of your dough. If it starts to become too sticky and floppy, it is too warm. Return it to the refrigerator to firm up a bit.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the crackers are a bit brown (it will be hard to tell because the dough is so dark, but you will be able to see a slight increase in the browning).
Remove from oven, let cool on sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer crackers to wire rack to cool completely. The crackers will crisp as they cool.
Allow the baking sheet to cool and then repeat the sprinkling, rolling, cutting, pricking, and transferring process for the 2nd portion of dough. Or you can store the second portion of dough in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days until you need it.
Store baked crackers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To re-crisp, place in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 minutes.