Get out your elastic waisted pants (and, I definitely am including the category of “jeggings” in this statement). It’s officially the holiday baking season. Because I bake all the time, I’m not necessarily baking more… but normally I have at least a level 3 out of 10 for self-control. Now I’m trying to claw my way back up to a negative five. I’ve dipped dangerously low. So low, that in fact my first batch of graham crackers didn’t even make it to the cooling rack. And, before that, the first intended batch never even made it into the oven.
Oh how I love Christmas.
I have finally secured my mother’s famous Nanaimo bar recipe. Sadly, I won’t see her until after Christmas, so I wanted to try and whip these guys up for my family and friends in Paris this week.
The first part of the Nanaimo bar layer is made with graham cracker crumbs. But, of course, you cannot find graham crackers in Paris (to my knowledge, at least). So, I had to make them myself for part 1 of the Nanaimo bar mission. (And, indeed, this is a mission because my mom is the best baker and/or Nanaimo bar maker in the world. I am terrified to try this recipe for fear of large doses of disappointment.)
I’ve heard homemade graham crackers are so much better than the store bought version, but now I’m empirically convinced. Nom.
(Side note about the giraffe: I asked my best friend (WHO IS CURRENTLY VISITING ME IN PARIS!!!) what animal would have graham crackers as their favourite snack... in 2.5 seconds she responded with: "a giraffe. definitely a giraffe." I'm convinced.)
Graham Crackers (vegan!) – What you need:
Adapted ever so slightly from: http://www.marthastewart.com/343771/homemade-graham-crackers
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour (plus more for rolling out the dough)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup wheat germ
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- ¾ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey*
*If you’re doing a vegan version, you can replace the honey with maple syrup!
Graham Crackers – What you do:
Preheat your oven to 180c.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, the wheat germ, the salt, the spices, and the baking soda. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat together the softened margarine (or butter, if not making a vegan version), the dark brown sugar, and the honey for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, or until very fluffy. Scrape down the bowl occasionally to make sure it’s incorporated well.
Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and continue to beat.
The dough will at first appear to be in large crumbs.
Once you reach this point, stop beating and use your hands to bring the dough together.
Split the dough into two pieces, and roll out (one piece at a time) the dough on a flat surface.
Trim the edges, then cut the dough into long rectangular pieces. Pierce the crackers with a fork a few times.
Transfer onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 180c for 15 minutes.
Allow the crackers to cool for 5 minutes on the pan outside of the oven, and then transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Let the holiday festivities begin!
Baking soundtrack - Tunes to inspire your inner baker:
Favourite. Christmas. Songs. Of. All. Time.
Yes, yes, I do indeed have this on repeat streaming from my iTunes. Constantly. And no, it NEVER gets old.
James Taylor (feat. Natalie Cole) - Baby, It's Cold Outside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmiWm9CsLBU