How do you make graham crackers so you can crush them up and make pie crust? I didn't find any recipes in any of my cookbooks, so off to the internet I went. Isn't it wonderful to have so much information right at your finger tips? I found a recipe that had ingredients that I was willing to use and had on hand. There are many recipes that I just won't use because I don't buy special items that aren't part of my staples. If I can't make it with some pretty basic ingredients, it either doesn't get made or gets revamped to fit my tastes.
The crackers are pretty simple to make. Mix:
1 cup white flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
(I used 2 tbsp. sugar)
Cut in: 3 tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup shortening until it is fine and crumbly.
Mix in: 2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. molasses
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
(We have great local honey that is very dark and strong, so I used 3 tbsp. of it and no molasses.)
Form dough into a ball, cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
Take the dough out of the frig, divide it in half and let it sit for 15 minutes. Well, about this time, I had to do a few other things so the dough sat out longer than this. I think in the long run, it would have worked better if I had stuck to the 15 minute time frame.
Coat wax paper with flour to prevent sticking. Roll out the dough to a 7 by 15 rectangle. This dough is fairly moist. A good coating of flour is needed to keep it from sticking to the waxed paper. The first few kind of wrinkled up instead of letting me slide the spatula underneath them. I ended up turning the spatula over to release each cracker instead of sliding them off of it. Next time, I will add a little more flour so the dough won't be so sticky.
Poke holes with a fork in 1/2 to 1 inch intervals, then cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. The directions say it doesn't matter if the cracker edges are touching because the edges will brown up first anyway. Use a spatula to move the crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. That's it. They are very simple.
Just as I was rolling out the second half of the dough, Frank had an idea. You see, I made these crackers just so I could make a graham cracker crust for a Winter Squash Pie, per Frank's request. To fill that request I needed to make graham crackers and cook our small harvest of Cushaw winter squash for the filling. But, instead of cutting up the second half of the dough and making crackers, we just used it as a pie crust. Since there is more liquid/moisture in the cracker dough than a standard pie crust, I baked the crust for 10 minutes before I put in the filling. Since the cracker recipe has baking powder, it did puff up a bit while it was baking, but for the most part, it did fine.
While the crust was baking, I started peeling, seeding and cutting up the squash. Frank got out our small stock pot, I added water and started adding squash. After I peeled most of one squash, I had another idea. Since I had the oven going, I thought I could bake the squash and spoon it out of the shell, instead of peeling, cutting and boiling. So, I changed the process in mid stream, and was glad I did. Baking the squash and scooping out the meat with a spoon is much easier than peeling it beforehand. The thing I would do different next year, is cover the squash with foil while it bakes. It dried out a little more than I liked this time. After I had enough squash baked and scooped, I mixed up the pie and got it in the oven.
I realized when the pie was just about done that the crackers take 15 minutes to bake and the pie takes 60 minutes. The crust around the edge of the pie plate was a little browner than I would like for it to be, so I could have covered with a little strip of foil. I just didn't think of it during the baking time.
I ended up with enough squash for four pies this year, so we will have to ration them out over the year until the next crop is producing. I saved the seeds out of the largest squash, it will be interesting to see if they are viable.
The crust turned out fine, it tasted good, but it really wasn't very noticeable since the flavors of the pie and crust were very similar. It didn't have the contrasting flavors a cheesecake and graham cracker crust do. Good, but not noteworthy. So, next time, I'll go back to a standard pie crust for this pie.
One of the reasons I really like cooking from scratch is that I can control the content of our food so much more than if I let someone else make it for us. Don't get me wrong, there are so many conveniences that I truly enjoy and would hate to be without. Take air conditioning for instance. It is not unusual in the summer for Frank to hear, "I really love air conditioning!" when we come in from a chore that leaves us hot and soaked with sweat. But knowing how to find information, about anything you are trying to do for yourself, is such an important skill. If you have the gumption to try, and the ability to find the information you need and put it to use, you can do just about anything. And if at first you don't succeed.......(what is the old saying?).......try, try again. Just ask Frank how many loaves of heavy, flat bread he had to endure before I finally started making some pretty good bread. Well, on the other hand, maybe you shouldn't ask him.......
Until next time, Fern