Graham crackers are a type of lightly sweetened, whole grain cracker that are often used in baking and dessert recipes. The whole crackers can be found sandwiching toasted marshmallows and chocolate in s’mores and the cracker crumbs are a popular choice for the crusts of pies and cheesecakes. The crackers were originally made with graham flour, a whole wheat flour that includes the germ and bran of the wheat, but these days they are more likely to be made with regular unbleached flour or regular whole wheat flour so that they have a lighter texture than the original recipe.
They were invented in the early 1800s by Presbyterian minister Reverend Sylvester Graham. He felt that eating bland foods was a way to train yourself to resist evil and temptation in your life and came up with graham crackers, which were recommended as part of the healthful (and holy) Graham Diet. The cookies outlasted Graham and are still a popular food today, probably because they are sweeter and tastier than the original recipe that Graham conceived, though they are still a relatively plain food.
Graham crackers are available at most stores in the US, but are more difficult to find abroad if you want to make a recipe that calls for them. Fortunately, there are similar plain, wholemeal biscuits that you can substitute for them in a recipe. You can also try your hand at making your own Homemade Graham Crackers, which are easy to make and much more delicious than their store-bought counterparts (you may have difficulty turning them into a crust because you’ll want to snack on them!).
I’ve been wanting to try homemade graham crackers for some time now. I even went out and bought a cookbook, Retro Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman, that I knew would have a recipe for it. These grahams use both honey and molasses, so the flavor of molasses isn’t overwhelming and the cookies have a nice sweetness. The cookies turned out to be amazingly tender and delicious – much more irresistible than a box of store-bought crackers, to say the least. The recipe only calls for a small amount of graham or rye flour, but you can actually substitute whole wheat flour in their place if you don’t have either of these specialty flours in your kitchen. I tried both ways and the whole wheat grahams turned out to be just as delicious as the others with a crisp and slightly flaky texture to them.
I whipped them up in the food processor in no time. The dough was incredibly easy to roll out and it could be balled up and rerolled to use up any scraps. The only change I would really make to the original recipe is to roll the crackers out thinner than the 1/4 inch called for, since I they didn’t get quite as crispy as I liked at that thickness. Instead, I aimed for 1/8 inch when rolling them out. The crackers ended up rising just the right amount in the oven – but feel free to shoot for a thicker cookie if you want something heartier.
These crackers can be eaten as-is, used in a batch of s’mores or ground up into graham cracker crumbs for a pie crust. In fact, you could even try using a whole sheet of this dough as a pie crust, too, if you don’t mind doing a little experimenting. After this, it might be difficult to go back to store-bought.