Necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case the force behind trying different recipes 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 crackers or store-bought vanilla wafers.
Having made hundreds of cheesecakes over the years using a wafer crumb crust, I didn't really need the extra step. No one cared.
But now that I live and breathe food, something most food bloggers can relate to, I need to be able to use graham crackers, which are totally different from vanilla or honey cookies.
I want different flavors to work with in recipes.
And besides, unless you're in Buenos Aires, you'll never be able to duplicate something that calls for store-bought Argentinian vanilla cookies, right?
So it came down 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, so I decided to skip that margin.
I had already made both recipes two years ago, trying to use the dough as a pie dough for a cheesecake pie I make. That was before I started this blog, and I didn't pay much attention to the subtleties between them. Oh, but that's all changed now.
Let's start with my favorite baker, Nancy Silverton.
Her recipe, interestingly, has no graham flour in it, which for me is perfect, since it's also something not easy to 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 melted butter crust has.
So I figured it was not worth it, a better crust was achieved with ground vanilla wafers. And much easier.
The second contestant here is Martha Stewart, who else. Her recipe has graham flour, very different proportions, and even some ingredients.
I used superfine whole wheat flour, which I will never know until I someday can make these with graham flour, how different the final cracker is. I suspect it doesn't affect it much.
Both doughs are very crumbly at first, and when starting to roll, they are rather sticky and too malleable to work with.
This means you have to work with them while they're as cold as possible and as fast as you can.
Both go in the fridge after mixing for a few hours or more. I left them like a day before I baked them.
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) after cutting each cookie before.
The latter has individual edges, and it's a little more laborious to transfer each individual cookie to a parchment-lined baking tray.
And both are insanely good.
Good, good, good flavor and texture. I wish I had a box of graham crackers beside me so I could tell you without that minimum percentage of doubt.
Both recipes are probably better than the boxed ones.
Nancy Silverton's recipe
It reminded me of a molasses cookie without the spicy kick.
They have sort of a flat honeycomb appearance and have a crunchy topping from a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar right before baking.
They have to be kept in a tin to preserve their crunchiness, otherwise, they become more like a soft cookie with only the idea of crunch.
Martha Stewart's recipe
Is more like a honey cookie and the butter comes through more. It's more of a layered effect.
You can keep them in a plastic bag and they just don't lose their crunch. It's been more than two weeks now, and they're still crisp.
These graham crackers, both versions, are one of the best aromas your kitchen, and the whole house really, can hope to be enveloped in. That cinnamon, holiday, cookie smell that makes you stand still and just breathe deeply.
I'm guessing you might want a winner. It's very hard, both are amazing, and probably the best recipes out there.
Go with whatever baker is your favorite. I will probably alternate both from now on, and end up making slight changes, like adding the cinnamon to the dough in Nancy's recipe, because it's easier than the whole sprinkling before baking.Print
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (superfine)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Beat the soft butter with the sugar for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Use a large bowl and an electric mixer or the stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Add the honey and beat until completely incorporated.
- In a medium bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 2 parts and mix on the lowest speed or with a spatula. Barely incorporate the first part and add the second. We don't want to overmix the dough after adding the flour, but it's easier to integrate if we add it in two parts.
- Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes so it firms up and is easier to roll.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and work with one at a time, keeping the other one wrapped in the refrigerator.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ⅛ - ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut squares with a pastry wheel (fluted or smooth) and prick with a fork to create a dotted line.
- Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C while the dough is in the fridge.
- Bake the crackers for about 12 minutes, until lightly colored.
- Let cool on a wire rack.
- Keep in tins or cookie jars.