By Angela Denstad Stigeler
If the ghost of Sylvester Graham ever wanders from campsite to campsite, he must be pleased to see his namesake cookie—the Graham cracker—so universally adored. Let’s hope he’s not reading the labels, though, as most of them would be sure to give him quite a fright. Originally devised as part of his efforts toward dietary reform in the early 1800’s, the Graham cracker is supposed to be a showcase for Graham’s particular mix of whole-wheat flour. He believed whole grain was key to correcting the American diet. All these years later, we still haven’t gotten it quite right, as many commercial brands of the snack contain most of the top five ingredients a person should avoid. Often the only thing retained from the original recipe is the cracker’s reputation for being healthy.
Fortunately, it’s easy to bake up a batch, customized in shape and size. Give these a try and, not only will everyone present be asking for s’more, you’ll please the health-conscious and make old Sylvester Graham one happy camper, too.
Homemade Graham Crackers
1 ¾ cups graham flour or whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Adjust the oven racks to the middle positions and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a food processor or large bowl and pulse or whisk to combine. Add the butter and pulse or cut in the butter until the mixture looks sandy, about 15 seconds in the food processor. Add the water, honey and vanilla and process or stir until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds.
Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Roll each piece of dough out between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper to a 16 by 8-inch rectangle, 1/8-inch thick. Remove the top pieces of parchment and trim each piece of dough to form straight edges. Score the dough into the desired size squares or other shapes and prick the crackers with the tines of a fork to prevent air pockets from forming.
Use the parchment paper to slide each piece of prepared dough onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 10-15 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through as necessary. Let the crackers cool completely on the baking sheets, then break them apart along the scored lines.