June 28, 2010

Accidental Goodness

So I'm sure I'm not the only one that this happens to, but sometimes my baking projects just plain go wrong. Things don't rise or I leave them in too long or whatever. Hey, it happens, right? And unlike cooking, where you can more often than not just deal with things as they are, add a little more of this or that and go ahead and dig in, I find that baking gone bad more often than not just needs to be binned. I mean, who wants to eat a dry cookie right? Or worse, a dry cake? But occasionally the going wrong leads to something better than what you intended. And honestly, it's for those times that I love baking.

This weekend the kids and I decided to make a batch of graham crackers, something I've been meaning to try for a while, they seem to pop up on a lot of the blogs and cookbooks I like. I read through a few recipes and settled on a variation of Alton Brown's. The variation being that I didn't have graham flour. But I'd seen a lot of versions that called for whole wheat flour instead and that I had.

The other variation was that it called for a food processor and I don't have a food processor. I know, I hear you, what in the world am I doing without a food processor? Well, tell it to my husband. I've been saying it for years. The problem is that I do actually have one, it's teeny, and I mean teeny. It holds just one cup of whatever needs to be chopped. Which is perfect for nuts or onions or a small batch of babyfood in the days that I made babyfood, but for baking, it's crap. Still, it works, after 13 years, it works. It's held up better than my Stand Mixer, and I think it cost me all of $7. So until the thing dies, I have to live without. Which is normally no big deal (although, Will, if you are reading this, I would really like a food processor because, come on! I cook!) But I think it may have been the downfall of this recipe. Or maybe I should say the saving grace.

Because I couldn't really get the butter and flours worked together in that magic pea sized crumble, the dough didn't come together quite enough to roll it out thinly. So half of it we rolled out as best we could, to about 1/4 inch, and the rest we made into squeeze cookies, something I read about last year on Chocolate and Zucchini. The "crackers" puffed up quite a bit and ended up with a soft, chewy, almost gingerbread like consistency (real gingerbread, not cookies) and the squeeze cookies had a little crunch on the outside while still being soft on the inside.

We blew through them.

Today we made another batch and this time we grated the butter, which helped, but it was still pretty crumbly. I even added an extra 1/2 ounce of honey (I cut the molasses down to 2 ounces and added honey to make up the difference, which also could have had something to do with the dryness of the dough I guess) but since the kids declared they wanted them to be "squeezy" again, well, I wasn't too concerned.

We're almost out again. I kid you not. Better than Oreos though.

So here they are, "Not Graham Crackers"

"Not Graham Crackers"
adapted from Alton Brown

  • 8 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and grated
  • 2 ounces molasses
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and blend in the butter with a fork or your fingertips until it is as incorporated as you can get (or if you are lucky and have a food processor, use that!) Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients, folding them in until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch on parchment, transfer to a baking sheet and score into rectangles without separating them. OR, pull 2 tablespoons of dough out into your hand and squeeze it into a ridged oblong shape. Space them two inches apart on parchment. Bake either (or both) for 15 minutes.