It is Australia Day and I suppose I should post something kind of typically Australian, but as a national day of celebration, I have my problems with Australia Day. When I was a kid, I can’t remember Australia Day being that big a deal: there was a holiday, but all the rah-rah drunken bogans wrapped in flags element were missing. There certainly wasn’t all that cheap Chinese Australian flag merchandise for people to wrap themselves in, so it was just a very low key public holiday of picnics and swimming… and that was that. As a nation, we don’t do patriotism well, so on this national day of celebrating all things Australian, I bring you something quintessentially American: the Graham cracker.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a commercially-made Graham cracker in my life. I have no nostalgic memories of eating S’Mores (toasted marshmallows and chocolate, squished between two crackers) as a child. When recipes for homemade Graham crackers started doing the rounds of my regular food blogs, I felt no urgent need to recreate them as a more wholesome homemade version of a childhood favourite.
This year, I made Graham crackers as one of my Christmas cookies. This might seem like an odd choice – a Christmas cookie – but in the middle of the festive season with its excess of nuts and chocolate, I often find myself craving a nice plain biscuit to have with a cup of tea. Graham crackers, with their wholewheat flour component, seemed like just the thing to round out the rich excesses of Christmas.
Not really having much of a clue of what a real Graham cracker tasted like or looked like, I undercooked my first batch, so they were slightly soft in the centre. They still tasted fine, but when I got the baking times right and baked them to crisp, golden brown crackers, they became one of my new favorite cookies. The only other tip is to use really good wholemeal flour (I used a spelt flour) and nice fresh untoasted wheatgerm. This gives the crackers a subtle nutty flavour which really sets them apart.
I made this batch for my nephew’s wife who has just had her second baby within two years (hero!). These crackers aren’t too sweet, so they could be eaten with cheese as a savoury sweet snack. Just the thing for a busy young mother who’s first child is having a bit of displacement anxiety and throwing a few awesome tantrums with the arrival of this new interloper on the scene.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 250 grams butter (softened)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of good quality mild tasting honey
- 1½ cups of plain flour
- 1 cup of good wholemeal flour
- ½ cup untoasted wheatgerm
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling on top (optional).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, wheatgerm, bicarb soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and honey together until pale and creamy.
- By hand, mix in flour mixture to butter until a dough forms (take care not to over mix). This should make a very stiff but pliable dough.
- Divide dough into two halves (for manageability) and roll out dough between two sheets of baking paper until about 3 mms (⅛ inch) thick. Cut into shapes, prick crackers a few times with a fork and sprinkle tops with sugar (if desired).
- Chill shaped cut dough for at least two hours. I usually cut and shape all the biscuits store them in an airtight container, between layers of greaseproof paper in the fridge and bake them off in the next day or so.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), or 160°C fan forced. Bake crackers until deep golden brown for about nine minutes, rotating the trays half way through baking.
- Cool and store in an airtight tin. These keep well for at least a week.