Friday, March 15, 2013

Gluten-free, Allergen-Free Graham Crackers

I'm laying on the couch with my little sickie watching Sesame Street.  I think I'm enjoying it more than she is, man Sesame Street is funny!  We're at Abby's Flying Fairy School right now, which is not my favorite segment.  So, I figured I'd catch things up on here.

Yesterday we made graham crackers.  I have tried several recipes over the past few months, and they all were flops.  Some were too dry and crumbly, some were too moist and didn't crunch, some burnt, and some just tasted nasty.  But I think I finally hit the nail on the head with this recipe.  It obviously took a few tries to get it right, but we were munching on these all night...and now this morning, too!  These will be helpful to have on hand in the coming weeks.  My little one is approaching her 2nd ear surgery, which will also include an adenoidectomy this time.  Not looking forward to this, but I'm hopeful it will help her experience some better health.  So I'm stocking up on easy snacks and treats.

I'm convinced the reason these graham crackers turned out so well is because both of my little helpers were in good spirits, working together (gasp!) and listening to directions.  I also realized we included some very important steps this time around that we failed to include in previous endeavors.

First thing's first, have your little helpers write the recipe.  (And yes, Helper #1 on the right is naked except for the apron.  If I haven't told you about "naked day" already, I'll get to that in a moment)

Next, put on some insanely cool glasses.  This is probably the most important step of the whole ordeal.  Do not, under any circumstances, leave this one out.  

After you've got on your insanely cool glasses, take them off.  Don't ask me why.  I usually don't understand these things, and it's often easier not to ask.  Whisk the dry ingredients together, making sure to glance at your upside-down cookbook to ensure you are doing it right.  

In a separate bowl you will want to cream the shortening with the brown sugar and agave.  At this point my phone disappeared so I was unable to take a picture of this step.  Once it was recovered I discovered about 20 pictures of my fireplace.  Cool.

You'll want to add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.  Don't overdo it.  It will still be crumbly, this is good. 

Next up, divide the dough in half and place one half on a sheet of parchment paper.  Have Helper #2, who in my case doubles as a hearthside photographer, pat it into a disk.  Then cover it with another sheet of parchment paper.

Roll that disk until is is pretty darn flat.  This is where a helper or two actually does come in handy, not that they didn't before.  Parchment paper is slippery, so an extra hand or two, or four, is really helpful in holding it down as you roll.  

 You'll want to try to get it into a rectangular shape as much as possible. Or maybe you don't. Maybe you want circle or square or traingular graham crackers.  To each her own. I used a pizza cutter to trim the edges. (After I took the picture)

Then I used the pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles and squares.  I'm not all that fantastic at spatial reasoning, so my spacing was a little off and I have several sizes of graham crackers.  I'm ok with this.  

Preheat the oven to 325, and put the dough, parchment paper included, on top of a cookie sheet and slide it into the freezer for about 20 minutes.  Then pull it out, remove the top sheet, and pop it into the oven for about 8 minutes.  Rotate the pan, then bake for another 8 minutes.  

Here's what you'll get.  Warm, golden yumminess.  The crackers will be soft at this point, that is ok.  Don't put them back in the oven!  Use your pizza cutter once more to run over the cuts you have already made.  this will help them break apart easier once they are hard. Transfer them, with the parchment paper, onto a cooling rack and leave them alone until they are completely cool.

Break the crackers apart carefully.  And start chowing down.  It will be hard not to.  These are just so good.  

We munched on them plain then made modified smores (because we were out of the "normal" ingredients), but there's just so many fabulous things you can do with graham crackers!


Gluten-Free, Allergen-free Graham Crackers
1 1/4 cups Basic Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Spectrum shortening
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/3 cup brown sugar

1.  Whisk together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.
2.  With a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, combine the last 3 ingredients and cream on medium for about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
4.  Lay out 4 sheets of parchment paper.  Divide the dough evenly between two of the sheets.  Pat into disks and cover each with the remaining parchment papers.  Roll the disks flat into rectangles.  Remove the parchment paper.
5.  Using a pastry cutter (or if you're fancy and have a pastry wheel), divide into equal rectangles.  You could also score each rectangle in half lengthwise by pressing down with the cutter but not going all the way through.
6.  Place the parchment paper back on top and pop in the freezer for about 20 minutes until firm.  At this time you'll want to preheat the oven to 325.
7.  Once the dough is firm, remove from freezer and also remove top sheets of parchment paper.
8.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Rotate the pan, and bake for another 8 minutes (that's a total of 16 minutes, just in case you haven't had your coffee yet). Transfer the parchment paper onto a cooling rack, and let the crackers cool completely before breaking the crackers apart.
9.  Break apart and store in an airtight container.

Now about that naked day business.  Helper #1 is drawn to princess dresses, ballet tutus, beautiful clothes in general.  As long as it's not jeans or "scratchy" pants.  You will rarely find her in pants and a shirt, unless that shirt is some type of ruffly tunic or has ribbons or tulle on it.  However, she is also crazy about being naked.  She will, at any given moment of the day, peel out of her clothes and dance around the house singing "Naked Day!" Ah, the freedom of being 3 1/2 and having not a worry in the world except whether you should wear or a dress or nothing at all.  So, if you knock on my door, you never know what you're going to get.  

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