a cookie that's called a cracker



It is hard for me to believe that just over a week ago I was in Munich baking graham crackers. It feels like light years away. It is even harder to believe that in addition to baking graham crackers, I was dressed in a dirndl and biking to Oktoberfest. A week later and now I wake up to the sound of honking and a loud air conditioner. Fortunately, I have always loved cities, including the sounds that they make. Instead of wearing a dirndl, I get dressed in traditional, Indian clothes each morning and instead of baking graham crackers I make salads on my desk with a Swiss Army knife and a small cutting board (more on that later, I promise).

I hadn't planned on making graham crackers. A few days before leaving Munich I walked by my local Indian grocer and noticed that between their usual piles of fruit they were selling key limes. Key limes! For a long time lemon meringue pie was my absolute favourite pie. It was the one dessert I would ask my Babchai to make after coming home from abroad. But then last year I made a frozen key lime pie. I made it for a big backyard barbecue I had in Toronto just before moving to Sweden. I will always love lemon meringue pie (a classic is a classic is a classic), but after the first bite into this frozen I couldn't get key limes off of my mind (or off of my fork).

I bought the key limes and decided to make this pie. I want to call it leaving pie because I have only made it right before a trip, or a move. I also promise to tell you more about this so called leaving pie another time. This post is about a cookie that's called a cracker. I'll just say that said pie has a graham cracker crust. Good luck finding graham crackers in Germany. Maybe you'll be lucky; I was not.

I had considered making the graham crackers myself, but it seemed silly to carefully roll out the dough and to bake it, only to then smash it into crumbs. After all, we can't do it all and Nigel Slater thinks that we are sad if we try to (nothing wrong with a store bought dessert, like ice cream with frozen smarties, he says, as long as you don't skimp out on the main). I wrote graham crackers on my grocery list and then began the search for them across Munich. I came home with some butter and brown sugar instead.

My partner had never tried graham crackers before and as we rolled out the dough together and made little holes with chop sticks, I was grateful that I did not find the pre-crumbled boxed version. Baking requires you to be present. You can't leave cookies in the oven. You have to commit to watching them go from a few ingredients to a dough to a baked good. Baking rarely requires a lot of time; however, I think that I like it so much because because it requires sometime to just be present. I'll miss Canadian Thanksgiving this year, but I am happy that I got to snack on something that tastes like home as I packed my bags to move once again.

So why are these called crackers when they clearly taste like (and are) cookies? Oh North America, you and your mysterious ways. I am thankful for you.


Graham Crackers

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose-flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp milk
a good pinch of ground vanilla bean

Topping

1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coarse sugar

In a food processor pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the butter. Use a pastry knife or two butter knives to cut the ingredients together.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse/mix just until the dough comes together. Dust a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap with some flour, then lay the dough on top and pat it into a rectangle. Wrap well and chill for about two hours (or overnight).

When you are ready to roll out the crackers, mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Take half of the dough out of the fridge and leave the other half in to continue to chill. On a well floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is about 1/8 inch thick. Use a ravioli cutter, a knife, or any other cookie cutting device to cut out the crackers. Then use chop sticks or something similar to pierce several holes into each cracker. Place the crackers on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a plate) and transfer to the freezer for 15-20 minutes. While the first batch is chilling, roll out the second. At this point also preheat the oven to 350F, 180C.

When the crackers are slightly firm, remove them from the freezer and transfer them to a cookie sheet if you used a plate, or directly into the oven if they are already on a cookie sheet. Bake until they are slightly firm to touch and evenly browned, about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your oven.

Guten!

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