Today is a good day for a graham cracker. And I really wanted to make my own.
It was kind of a sticky dough, and I was being impatient. So I didn’t let it hang out in the fridge long enough before cutting it into cracker sized pieces. Hence, trapazoidal crackers.
They actually look like graham crackers! And taste like them! A tad overcooked I think, but delicious – with a cinnamon sugar coating on top.
But what to do with all these graham crackers?
Oh yes. We went there.
GRAHAM CRACKERS RECIPE (from Nancy Silverton’s “Pastries of La Brea Bakery”):
2 1/2 cups plus 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
7 TBSP (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 TBSP whole milk
2 TSP pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 tsp 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.
- 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.
- Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three 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.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
I’m supposed to be on a plane right now, heading to Alabama for holidaying with the family. The Chicago airport had other plans for me (I KNEW not to fly through Chicago in winter, but I forgot…..argh). So to take advantage of this unplanned day of relaxation, I’m experimenting with a cinnamon bun recipe.
Filling the dough with cinnamony goodness before rolling it up.
Such cute little bunnies!
I call that one!
Sticky sticky heavenly stickiness. With sticky caramelized sugar on time. Thank goodness Megan conveniently showed up to help me & John eat them. And Bobby. And Pantea. And Scott & Brian…hmmm…I think people like cinnamon buns.
Yesterday I woke up with a head cold. It was sad. But instead of lying under the covers all day, I invited Pantea over for a holiday cooking marathon. Xmas presents: check.
Of course no holiday baking is complete without some brittle.
And some pretty good peanut and sea salt brittle, if I do say so myself.
And pear butter. Deliciously spicy pear butter. Liquid pie I call it. This year is all about pears for me. Pear & molassas upside down cakes, pear pies w/ pecan crust, pear and ginger crisps…I just can’t stop.
Yes, it’s bacon. Candied bacon. And yes, I cut it up with scissors.
That’s right. Candied bacon toffee. With sea salt and a hint of cayenne. The piece de resistance. My new favorite candy. EVER.
Lemon marmalade that is. For xmas presents.
Actually kinda bitter for my taste. But I think I know a few people who will be into it.
Occasionally I like to trade dinner for a Top Chef Marathon with my old roomies. It was a night just like that. And there was a request for cornbread. I’ve had my eye on Peter Reinhardt’s recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, so i gave it a shot.
First roast some bacon.
And then bake it on top of the cornbread.
And viola! The perfect winter dinner. And by that I mean chili. But vegetarian chili for the delicate among us.
1 cup (6 oz) coarse cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz) buttermilk
8 oz bacon (approx. 10 slices)
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) flour
1 1/2 Tbsp (.05 oz) baking powder
1 tsp (.25 oz) salt
1/4 cup (2 oz) white sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) brown sugar
2 Tbsp (1.5 oz) honey
2 Tbsp (1 oz) butter, melted
2 1/2 cups (16 oz) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp (1 oz) bacon fat or vegetable oil)
- The night before making the bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, fry the bacon or cook it in the oven. Drain off the fat into a can or bowl and save for greasing the pan. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and brown sugar. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs. Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture.
- Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth. Stir in the corn kernels until they are even distributed.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in 10 inch cake pan or a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fat gets very hot. Remove the pan, tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top, gently pressing them into the batter.
- Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, until the bread is firm and a tester comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. For muffins, fill muffin tins to the top and bake at 350 F for the same amount of time.
Since alot of us go away to be with our families on Thanksgiving, every year my friends get together a couple of weeks before to celebrate with each other. It’s a great big pile of different family traditions and recipes. I, of course, make pies.
Getting my trashy on with a the good old Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. I promise, I don’t normally bake things out of cans. I also promise that it was organic pumpkin.
Turned out a very pretty pie. I do love pumpkin pie.
Sleepy pie (AKA Hazelnut Espresso Pie).
Jimmy mentioned he was looking to learn some tips on making good pie. Naturally I couldn’t resist a day of pie making and wine drinking. We made a 4 pies: 2 apple (1 with a laminated crust and one with a regular crust), 1 banana cream & 1 lemon meringue. Here are some photos of the apple, since the others were more…well, they had good personalities.
Rolling the laminated dough.
Shaping the dough.
Filling the dough with apples.
And there she is, our apple pie. There’s something about the process of making pie that makes me feel like I just gave birth to something precious. Not too precious to eat, but definitely worth staring at lovingly.