My impulse buys at Japanese grocery stores are often the source of these “battles,” but the import stores are equally to blame. I dropped by one on the way back from the city last week, and I noticed a bag of “guruhamu flour” next to the corn meal I was about to set in my basket. Graham flour? Surely I can make something delicious with this!
My first thought was to use it for pie crust as I had also acquired some tart pitted cherries and pureed pumpkin in cans. When I got home, I searched the Internet for graham flour recipes and found a lot of graham cracker recipes. Appropriately, I made this on Thanksgiving, because there is nothing more American than graham crackers.*
Graham flour, as is noted on literally every graham cracker recipe, was invented by Sylvester Graham, one of several influential participants in the vegetarian/health boom in the mid-to-late 19th century.** Graham crackers, that great American snack, were the product of this flour, which is basically whole wheat flour plus wheat germ and endosperm ground and remixed together. However, most commercial graham crackers aren’t even made from this hard-to-find flour (possibly because the flour has a 1-month shelf life at room temperature and six months in the freezer). The recipes I found on my favorite cooking blogs, 101 Cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen, were based on Nancy Silverton’s recipe, in which she had attempted to recreate the flavor and texture of graham crackers by mixing whole wheat and all-purpose flours and or honey with brown sugar. Which would have been great to know when I moved here, but since I had graham flour on hand and wasn’t sure of the conversion between flours, wasn’t exactly useful to me at the moment. (Turns out graham flour and whole wheat are very similar, but I digress.)
Finally, I stumbled upon this recipe for vegan graham crackers that called for graham flour (or lets you substitute whole wheat flour, which I may do in the future). I don’t use solid margarine, and agave nectar is only available at the import store, so I used the butter and honey I had on hand. I always feel a little dirty unveganizing vegan recipes, but 仕方がないね.
The thing I like about this recipe is that I don’t have to use a food processor or refrigerate anything. My cheap blender is horrid as a food processor for pastries, and my shoe-box size fridge is currently full of fixings for chicken tacos. (I also found tortillas at an import store!)
I halved the original recipe, and was doing well until I got distracted and added too much water. I tried to compensate with more flours and baking powder, and the result was just fine, just probably less sweet than it was supposed to be. Next time I will do it right (per recipe below) and also roll the dough out flatter to get them crispier, but I was very happy with the result.
Honey Graham Crackers
Adapted from VeganYumYum’s “Graham Crackers (and Dandies!)”
Makes ~12 5-cm x 10-cm crackers
- Slightly melt the butter and cream with the brown sugar. Add vanilla and honey and cream till smooth.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add a little of the dry ingredients and water to the mixture and mix together; continue until all the dry ingredients and water are incorporated.
- Work the dough with your hands until everything is evenly combined.
- Cover dough and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 170 C. Roll out the dough into a thin rectangle and trim edges—I rolled mine out between two pieces of wax paper. Remove the top layer of wax paper and set it aside.
- Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or rectangles (I did 5-cm x 9-cm rectangles). Poke with a fork to release air bubbles and create that distinctive graham cracker pattern. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon and sugar.
- Separate the crackers—place half on the other sheet of wax paper and set aside; trim the rest of the wax paper and place it and the remaining half of the crackers on a cookie set or your oven range’s cookie-sheet insert.
- Bake for 25-40 minutes at 170 C or until the crackers are turning golden brown around the edges. (This will depend on how thinly you rolled the dough.)
- Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack.
*The UK and Australia have digestive biscuits, which you can buy at the little groceries in my town for some reason, but they aren’t really the same.
**A la Dr. Kellogg’s sanitarium in Battle Creek at the end of the century; which I can’t read about without wanting to travel back in time to punch him in the face. While graham crackers won’t curb your sexual appetite, reading about these repressed and oppressive quacks might. I take great pleasure in the fact that Graham and Kellogg would both scream if they read the post prior to this one, though.