Feb 22, 2010

Homemade Graham Crackers

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Well. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided that few things are more frustrating than spending exorbitant amounts of time and dirty dishes making something from scratch and then realizing that, all things considered, you actually prefer the stuff from the can (I’m looking at you, enchilada sauce). But despite the possibility of such a situation, I always get an unnatural charge out of making typically store-bought things from scratch. There’s just something nerdily satisfying about finding a way to take familiar things to some other-worldly level that makes you think that perhaps you’ve never really had the real thing at all (see also: marshmallows, ice cream). Such was the case with these homemade graham crackers.

I started thinking about homemade graham crackers forever ago, and bookmarked it in my mind at a time when my brain was supple and unfettered enough to be trusted to hold long-term thoughts. And then I had a baby, and forgot all about doing something as crazy as making homemade graham crackers. But then toddlerhood came along, and graham crackers became akin to currency, and I suddenly thought to shake the dust off that old idea to try making them from scratch. Also, my latest trip to Miette Patisserie here in San Francisco left me completely unable to shake them.

Have I mentioned how obsessed I am with Miette? Stepping into one of their shops is like being enveloped with design inspiration, everything from the cupcakes to the wallpaper, much in the way that going into an Anthropologie store renders me hypnotized and despising every home furnishing I own, and overcome with the need to replace them exclusively with items from that place. Kitschy lamps! Vintage fabric drapes! Delicate tea cups on display!

And then I remember that I have a tiny bull living in my personal china shop and I’ve found it pointless to even hang drapes at all and that all potentially breakable items in the entire house live crowded on our fireplace mantle at an un-Little C-friendly height and I cry a little. At least when I go to Miette I can come home with something that is still inspiring, but edible, as to not need precious placement in our house. And one of my recent purchases were their utterly addictive graham crackers.

At seven bucks a pop for a short stack, naturally you’d hope Miette’s graham crackers far surpass the store-bought variety that comes in those brown wax-papery sleeves. And lo, they do. The thing is, they’re not really like any graham cracker I’ve ever tried–these are intensely buttery with the most incredible snap, and not at all crumbly or dry. The flavor here is complex with earthy whole wheat flour, dark brown sugar and a touch of honey and cinnamon that reminds you that, oh yes, this is supposed to be a graham cracker.

What’s more, I can’t think of anything more versatile that’s come out of the Piece of Cake kitchen as of late. I wholeheartedly recommend them for ice cream sandwiches and s’mores–they’re even more sturdy than the kind you’d buy at the store and hold up well to freezing and long-term storage, a total workhorse cookie, if you will. Of course, they’re also perfect for just plain eating with a glass of cold milk or some tea from a pretty little mug, like my single Anthropologie-esque teacup that I keep on lockdown when not in use. Just an idea there for you.

Homemade Graham Crackers
Adapted from Miette Patisserie, San Francisco

The key to getting the crispiest cookies with an awesome “snap” is to roll the dough very thin–try for as close to 1/8 of an inch as you can. This is a very buttery, soft dough–be sure to chill it completely before rolling and then again chilling the cut cookies well before baking them, otherwise they will be maddeningly difficult to work with and will spread during baking.

Makes about 4 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I like stone-ground organic flour)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I like the punch of Vietnamese cinnamon)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Position an oven rack to the center position and preheat it to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Whisk together flour, wheat flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and brown sugar, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and beat in the honey. Stir in dry ingredients on low speed. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a disc, wrap well. Refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out very thin, about an 1/8-inch thick (you can gather the dough scraps and reroll as necessary). Cut out cookies with a 2 to 3-inch cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking sheets, a dozen per sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired. Chill the cut cookies on the sheets for at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake 14 to 16 minutes until golden. Let the cookies set for a minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for a week or more.

  • Those look great. I have always been a cookie fanatic.

  • Shauna – How do you think they would do in using them to make graham cracker crust for cheesecakes?

  • these look lovely and perfect! i've always wanted to try making my own. this looks like the recipe! thanks!

  • I always think 'Graham' crackers should be made with graham flour, and have been surprised, confused and even slightly annoyed with the slate of recipes I've come across lately, none of which have any graham flour at all. What's the deal?

    Maybe I need to dust off the Alton Brown Graham cracker recipe I've bookmarked and do the dirty with that, and maybe yours too, and decide once and for all which one takes home the prize. I love the stuffin' out of graham crackers. It might be fun. Or messy.

  • Nicole–Hmm. These graham crackers are really buttery, so I'm wondering if adding more melted butter as one would to make a crust might be a tad too rich. I know there are other recipes for graham crackers out there that are drier and closer to store-bought crackers and those might work better. But! This recipe halves well so maybe make half a batch, taste them and see what you think? Report back!

    Kate–I see where you're coming from! I suppose a true "graham cracker" should be made with graham flour, but in this recipe, you're sort of recreating graham flour by the ratio of AP flour to whole wheat (a reason why I prefer stone-ground whole wheat flour for this recipe–it has more of the texture of graham flour), since graham flour is really a blend of white flour, wheat bran and germ. Also, AP flour and whole wheat flour are more widely available. But maybe swap out the AP and WW flour for all graham and let me know what happens!

  • I have the same obsession…let's see..Homemade Oreos, Pop Tarts, mayonnaise…sometimes they are better and sometimes it's better to drop the $2.19.
    I bet your graham crackers are way better than Nabisco!

  • mmmm…s'mores. yes, please. though your graham crackers are far too pretty for s'mores.

  • I have always wondered what smores would be like with homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows. Might just have to find out….

  • I love graham crackers, and homemade ones even better. I agree there is just a great satisfaction I get from baking something wholly from scratch. For me, it may even be about the process more than the result.

  • Graham crackers are super hard to find in france and I adooore them, so I'm bookmarking this recipe–thanks!!

  • These look amazing!!! I love graham crackers. Thanks for stopping by, the cake was absolutely delicious.

  • Those look awesome! I have made graham crackers before (Martha Stewart's, which are very good), but I think the very best graham crackers I've ever had are from Miette, so I'm happy to see this recipe.

    Oh, and I remember the first time I walked into an Anthropologie store, I immediately wished it was what my home and wardrobe looked like.

  • I loved looking through all the photos-those graham crackers look so crispy and buttery. Now these would make for the ultimate s'more!

  • Wow – they look just like Miette's.
    I love their graham crackers and love that there's no nuts in them so my daughter can eat them. Where did you get the cookie cutter?

  • Joyce–I have a set of awesome cutters in all different sizes that are scalloped on one side, round on the other. Scored them at Spun Sugar in Berkeley for $13. Love!

  • I have been drooling over this post for weeks and finally made these graham crackers (as well as my favorite marshmallow recipe) yesterday. These are absolutely to die for! They make fabulous s'mores, but I think I like them even more by themselves with a tall glass of cold milk. The flavor is so buttery and complex. They remind me ever so slightly of shortbread but with more depth of flavor. I'll be making these again for sure! Thank you for the amazing recipe.

  • Also, I have decided that this is my new favorite cookie. I'm curious, are these based on the actual recipe for Miette's graham crackers or just inspired by them? I have been in love with Miette's adorable treats for years but, since I live in Kentucky and don't get to travel, I have never gotten to try any.

  • Amy–This is the recipe from the shop, as found in a NY Times article from several years back. I'm so glad you love them as much as I do!

  • This is such an amazing post! Your photos are beautiful, & the picture of the scalloped cookies being cut out of dough is especially cute. I'm so glad our recipe worked well for you!

    Nicole- we originally created these graham crackers to use in our cheesecake crust. It wasn't until a few years later that we started selling them on their own.

    Thanks everyone!
    P.S. Our cookbook will be out May 2011!

  • Tess–Thanks so much for chiming in and answering the question about making the crackers into crust! So you add melted butter to the crushed crackers like any other graham cracker crust recipe?

  • Thank you for this recipe! This recipe will work well as the base for my "bunny smores." Glad to see they'll keep for at least a week.

  • Thank you for your blog! Walking into the Miette store at the Ferry Bldg you are overwhelmed with so many choices. I picked up the chocolate Graham crackers and was instantly addicted. Can you let me know how to incorporate chocolate to this recipe? Much thanks!

  • […] via piece of cake […]

  • Delicious cookies! Crispy, flakey, just sweet enough. Still delicious even when I made them too thin and overbaked them (important to keep an eye on them and take them out when still a light golden color). They remind me more of a buttery sable than a graham cracker, but that turned out to be a good thing in the end. Swapped out some wheat flour for some wheat germ for texture and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar for decoration and a slightly sweeter cookie. Will definitely make again!

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