Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Testing Recipes: Homemade Graham Crackers

Not all of these are recent purchases,
but you get the idea.
In the last month or so, I’ve bought at least eight new food-related books:  cookbooks, baking books, cake decorating books.  One of my (many) vices is buying cookbooks.  And then never making a single recipe out of them.  Not.  One.  Recipe.  I can’t tell you how many cookbooks I have that I’ve spent countless hours looking at, but never cooking from.  Since I was a little excessive on buying cookbooks lately, I figured I’d better use some of them.

Inspired by the graham cracker base of the marshmallow pinwheel cookies my dad likes, I’ve been thinking about an attempt at making homemade graham crackers for some time now.  Given that I now have no less than four baking books with recipes for homemade graham crackers, I couldn’t see any reason not to try them.

The first recipe up at bat is from Miette.  This is an absolutely charming cookbook from the San Francisco pastry shop of the same name.  Unfortunately, it’s a cookbook riddled with errors.  I downloaded the errata sheet from the publisher’s website, which is a full page long – and apparently not all inclusive.

Miette’s recipes include both volume and weight measurements.  Apparently there were some difficulties with those conversions.  Although the graham cracker recipe is not included on the errata sheet, I immediately noticed a problem.  The ingredient list includes “2/3 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter”.  Do you already see the problem with that?  Six ounces of unsalted butter is 3/4 cup.  (I actually sent an e-mail to the publisher to point this out.)  It’s a small amount, but in baking a small amount can make a big difference. 

Despite the discrepancy, I proceeded with the recipe using six ounces for the butter, mostly because that was easier to measure.  I felt this recipe great had potential for variations given the ingredients.  The recipe called for 1-1/2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour.  I used 1 cup of all purpose, 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour and the 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour.  I also used ginger in place of cinnamon.

The dough came together very easily.  I wrapped it up in plastic and let it rest overnight.  I let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before rolling it out.  That’s where things started to not go so well.  It’s been unseasonably warm around here lately.  The near record highs in the upper 70’s did not bode well for butter-based dough.  Especially not butter-based dough with too much butter.  I should have used the 2/3 cup measurement.  I had to keep giving the dough brief time outs in the freezer just to be able to work with it.

Perhaps it was because of the butter, perhaps because of the temperature, perhaps a combination of the two, but what I ended up with was not what I had in mind for graham crackers.  The taste was . . . okay, but not great.  They were greasy.  They were crunchy from too much sugar, but not crispy.  These were definitely not worth the amount of time spent on them.

I made shamrocks (and stars) since Saturday is St. Patrick's Day.

Perhaps if this recipe makes it to the errata sheet, I’ll try it again.  In the meantime, my next graham cracker recipe on deck is from One Girl Cookies.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


  1. What fantastic cookie shapes! I recently saw some graham crackers in the shape of piglets, and I am excited to start experimenting. I'll enjoy hearing how your graham cracker adventures go. My favorites have come from Martha Stewart's baking handbook, but they are the only one's I have tried.

    1. The shamrock cutter is one of a set from Gooseberry Patch's Cookie Cheer All Year. I thought it would be fun for St. Patrick's Day. The graham cracker recipe from Martha Stewart Cookies is on my list to test. I'm wondering if it's the same as the one in the baking handbook. And I'm wondering why I don't have the baking handbook!


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