27.1.10

The Daring Bakers January 2010 Challenge

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

I just made a triple batch of Nanaimo Bars in December for my new friends in Tennessee.  I gave away my leftover icing sugar and coconut because I am trying not to make any more 'fat food' for awhile!  So this challenge is a challenge for me!  I have decided that I would love to make the graham crackers from scratch.  I have always wanted to try them.  They will be good for S'Mores as well.  But that is all I will do this month.  Crackers only and no more Nanaimo Bars.  This is not the gluten free version.

Look at the amount of vanilla in this recipe!  So that tells me you better use a very good quality.  It is a dominant flavour.  And the cinnamon sprinkle is really important, so use a really fresh and good quality cinnamon.  I used sorghum rather than honey, because that is what I had on hand.  Sorghum is a type of mild molasses more common in the southern USA and it was just fine.   Chilling them well before baking is really important.  It prevents them from spreading during baking.  I also cool down the pan before baking the next batch.  (Or just use a second pan.)  Be really careful not to overcook.    And OH MY GOSH, they are so-o-o good!  You could just have them with coffee.

Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.  (Oops!  I forgot to add the 2T flour.  I used unbleached all purpose.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.   ( I made mine 2" x 3" for single wafers)

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350F.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a few more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.   (I marked them before chilling.  Just seemed to be a more logical sequence.)

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Yield: 10 large crackers  ( I made 42 - 2" x 3" crackers.)

From Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000)

20 comments:

  1. Beautiful.
    i love the way you decorated it.
    Great presentation!

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  2. I am so impressed..Really..I've never made these..:)

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  3. Perfect crackers... glad you made a note about the vanilla... I would have thought is was a misprint! Also thanks about chilling... first time I tried graham crackers... they were tasty but a mess!

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  4. Your grahams look so cute :) The bars look so elegant. I abs loved this challenge :)

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  5. I would never have thought of making my own crackers but this is the time to expand my thinking. Yours look professional.

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  6. I do enjoy graham crackers, especially with peanut butter! Odd, but wonderful. I'd love to try these.

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  7. That's funny that you just made nanaimo bars in December. I hadn't heard of them until this challenge. Great job on the crackers, they look really nice. And so do your nanaimo from last month. =)

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  8. Your graham crackers and the bar look perfect. I love how they are presented, too.

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  9. Great job on this challenge! This looks so delicious!
    Cheers,

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  10. I'm glad you enjoyed the grahams! They are simply gorgeous! Wonderful job on my challenge =D.

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  11. Pontch - thanks for stopping by to see my crackers!

    Nana & Sweet and Savory - neither had I until this challenge. They aren't exactly like the purchased crackers. But I think they are better.

    lostpastremembered - thanks! Yes, the chilling is really important.

    DK - thanks for stopping by to see my crackers.

    Cookie Kelly - You must not be Canadian,eh?

    Memoria & Mamatkamal - Thank you!

    Lauren - Thanks for stopping by to see my crackers. I enjoyed making these. I'll definitely be making them again.

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  12. Sarah, this is a wonderful idea. I never thought to make graham crackers. Then I could take your advice and use the graham crackers to make smores-Yum! I really love graham crackers. They bring back so many fond childhood memories.

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  13. Your crackers are beautiful, and they were my favourite part too! Is sorghum syrup strongly flavoured? I've never seen it for sale in Canada.

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  14. Sarah - (I think that is your name too!) Your graham crackers look great and you have a very good point about adjusting the honey so I can use cinnamon. I probably am missing a big flavor by skipping it. I wonder if adding a hint of clove would be a tasty topping addition to?

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  15. Rachel - Thank you!

    Velva - I would only use my homemade graham crackers for S'Mores or for snacking. I think they are totally wasted on Nanaimo Bars, unless, of course, you cannot buy them where you are.

    Mary - No, I haven't seen sorghum in Canada either. There are two kinds - light and dark. I used the light and it was not strongly flavoured. The dark sorghum is like molasses.

    Sarah - Yes, I am also Sarah. Well, I just think of replicating the store bought graham crackers. They don't have a clove flavour. That does not by any means say that these would not benefit from a tiny pinch of cloves.

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  16. ur presentation is just FANTASTIC!!!

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  17. Your graham crackers look amazing. I thought they were very delicious too. Great job on this challenge!

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  18. Your graham wafers look great! I really enjoyed these bars! That's so funny that you made so many of them in December. :) It looks like they turned out great, though!

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  19. I imagine these to make homemade smores!

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