These are one of my son’s absolute favorite treats, and a staple in our home! I make a batch of these up regularly (sometimes making a double batch and just storing half of the dough in the freezer until I’m ready to bake again) and cut them out using seasonal cookie cutters.
The original recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Nancy Silverton of LaBrea Bakery. I’ve adapted it to using whole wheat flour, increased the milk as whole wheat tends to need more moisture than white flour, and added whey to help make the flour more digestible and the cookies more tender. I also added cinnamon directly to the dough, rather than covering them with cinnamon-sugar, as the original recipe suggests.
Whole Wheat Graham Crackers
- 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
- 1/3 cup raw, unfiltered honey
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons whey
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 teaspoons 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, salt and cinnamon. 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, whey 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, at least 2 hours or overnight (this dough can be kept in your refrigerator for up to three days. Ask me how I know this.)
When ready to bake:
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
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. I recommend flouring and turning with each roll to make sure that the dough will not stick to your work surface.
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.
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.
Or, simply use your favorite cookie cutters – my son’s favorite’s include an alphabet set and seasonal cookie cutters like pumpkins, stars, etc.
Though I have to warn you not to choose a cookie cutter for this particular cookie with a lot of detail. The dough is very sticky and puffs up a bit when it bakes. The more intricate and detailed the cookie cutter, the more you’re going to be exasperated when trying to make these because the dough will stick in the little recesses of the cutter! And then, once they’re baked, you lose some of the detail. Keep it simple. My favorites are apples, stars, hearts, etc.
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 more crackers.
For smaller cookie-cuttered crackers, bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The original recipes calls to bake for 25 minutes, but I’ve only ever made mine with cookie cutters, resulting in smaller cookies and a shorter baking time. Just keep your eye on them. Bake until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
These are great with a cream-cheese frosting, with roasted marshmallows for s’mores and just as a little treat for little ones 12 months and older (since they are baked with honey!). I hope these become a staple in your pantry as they have become in mine!