|Left: Martha Stewart’s recipe Right: Nancy Silverton’s recipe|
Necessityis the mother of invention, or in this case the force behind trying differentrecipes of the same cracker not because I want to have a good homemade version,but because they are non-existent here, so it’s either homemade graham crackersor store-bought vanilla wafers.
Having madehundreds of cheesecakes over the years using a wafer crumb crust, I didn’treally need the extra step. No one cared.
But nowthat I live and breathe food, something most food bloggers can relate to, Ineed to be able to use graham crackers, which are totally different fromvanilla or honey cookies. I want the different flavour to work with in recipes.And besides, unless you’re in Buenos Aires, you’ll never be able to duplicatesomething that calls for store-bought argentinian vanilla cookies, right?
|Martha Stewart’s Graham Crackers|
So it camedown to two recipes, because, really, there was no need to look any further.There was such a slim chance that they wouldn’t be wonderful, I decided to skipthat margin.
I hadalready made both recipes two years ago, trying to use the dough as a pie dough fora cheesecake pie I make. That was before I started this blog, and I didn’t paymuch attention to the subtleties between them. Oh, but that’s all changed now.
Let’s startwith my favorite baker, Nancy Silverton. Her recipe, interestingly, has nograham flour in it, which for me is perfect, since it’s also something not easyto find here. The time I made this dough to use as a pie dough, it was good,but it didn’t have the right texture, crumbly for starters, a crumb and meltedbutter crust has. So I figured it was not worth it, a better crust was achievedwith ground vanilla wafers. And much easier.
|Nancy Silverton’s Graham Crackers|
The secondcontestant here, is Marthat Stewart, who else. Her recipe has graham flour, andvery different proportions and even some ingredients. I used superfine wholewheat flour, which I will never know until I someday can make these with grahamflour, how different the final cracker is. I suspect it doesn’t affect it much.
|Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and ready to bake (Nancy S.)|
Both doughsare very crumbly at first, and when starting to roll them rather sticky and too malleable to work with. Which means you have to workwith them while they’re as cold as possible and as fast as you can. Both go inthe fridge after mixing for a few hours or more. I left them like a day beforeI baked them.
|Just out of the oven (Nancy S.)|
I made one (MS) in a whole flat giant cookie, with the separations marked, directly on the same parchment paper where I rolled it, and the other one (NS) cutting each cookie before . The latter has individual edges, and it’s a little more laborious having to transfer each individual cookie to a parchment-lined baking tray.
And bothare insanely good. Good, good, good flavour and texture. I wish I had a box ofgraham crackers beside me so I could tell you without that minimum percentageof doubt. But both recipes are probably better than the box.
|Before going into the oven (Martha S.)|
The firstrecipe, from Nancy S., reminded me of a molasses cookie without the spicy kick.They have sort of a flat honeycomb appearance, and have a crunchy topping froma sprinkle of cinnamon sugar right before baking. They have to be kept in a tinto preserve it’s crunchiness, otherwise they become more like a soft cookiewith only an idea of crunch.
The secondrecipe, from Martha S., is more like a honey cookie and the butter comesthrough more. It’s more of a layer effect. You can keep them in a plastic bagand they just don’t loose their crunch. It’s been more than two weeks now, andthey’re still crisp.
Thesecrackers, both versions, are one of the best smells your kitchen, and wholehouse really, can hope to be enveloped in. That cinnamon, holiday, cookie smellthat makes you stand still and just breathe deeply.
I’mguessing you might want a winner. It’s very hard, both are amazing, probablythe best recipes out there. Go with whatever baker is your favourite. I willprobably alternate both from now on, and end up making slight changes, likeadding the cinnamon in the dough in Nancy S. recipe, because it’s easier thanthe whole sprinkling before baking.
If I haveto give a final veredict it is the texture of Martha S. and the flavor of Nancy S. And if you have a hard time finding graham flour, NS’s is the winner.
But if you really, really need to know my favourite right now, one cookie in each hand, a bite of this one, then a bite of the other, a little deliberation… I have to say I like Martha’s better because of the texture and how they seem to never loose their crunchiness.