Friday, March 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Graham Cracker Recipe

Yummy Graham Crackers and Milk

I love to bake. Cookies. Cakes. Pies. Obscure desserts that no one had ever heard of except French pastry chefs. The more challenging the better. In high school, if ever there was an event where I could make a multi-layer dark chocolate truffle cake coated in ganache, I was there, cake in hand, ready to push a giant slice on anyone who would try it.
I love baking so much that for my 19th birthday I decided I, and I alone, would make a three course meal for twelve people. No small feat considering I wanted it to be challenging and gourmet. I made Parmesan bowls filled with a pear and honey salad, balsamic chicken with broccoli and rice, and a faux cheese burger with a strawberry milkshake and mango steak fries. (The bun was two homemade donuts, with white chocolate for the cheese, a brownie for the burger, and raspberry puree for the ketchup). Dinner, while delicious, was by no means prompt, and by the end of the night, I was exhausted.
As I got older I continued baking and learning new things. I've had several friends with severe allergies or dietary restrictions, not that those stopped me from trying to make them delicious desserts. Dairy free cheesecake or coconut creme brulee anyone? Sure, sometimes I completely and totally bombed, but others were a success, and I always learned from my mistakes.
However, out of all of my friends and loved ones with allergies, my little nephew takes the cake, or in his case, the dairy-free gluten-free soy-free cake. Yes, three allergies. I've found that it's fairly easy to adapt a recipe when dealing with only one allergy, but the more allergies you have the harder it becomes.
So, one day hearing that he loves graham crackers, but can't eat them due to his allergies, I decided to try my hand at making some gluten-free dairy-free graham crackers. The vegan butter we use is made with soy, but he doesn't have a reaction to it like he does with soy milk.
I started out by trying a gluten-free graham cracker recipe that I found online. Now, here is a good point to interject that there are a lot of good gluten-free recipes online. I helped do a gluten-free bridal shower a year or so ago, and all the gluten-free bread recipes I made I got off of blogs. They all turned out great, and everyone, even the people who didn't normally eat gluten-free, loved them. The graham cracker recipe, however, was not one of the good ones. It tasted like cardboard sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Keep in mind that I followed the recipe exactly; I hadn't even tried taking out the dairy yet.
To be honest, I should have known. My fabulous baker friend who has her own gluten-free bakery in Seattle (website here) told me that many online gluten-free graham cracker recipes weren't up to par. She told me she had to experiment a lot to get her graham cracker recipe just right, and said in no uncertain terms that she would never share her recipe, because she had spent too much time perfecting it.
Thus, being someone who enjoyed a baking challenge, I decided I would make my own gluten-free graham cracker recipe. I browsed through the book “Gluten-Free Baking Classics,” by Annalise G. Roberts (details here), a wonderful book on gluten-free baking.
I thought about the texture and taste of a graham cracker. It is, despite its name, a cookie with the texture of a pie crust, so I started there. I mixed two of Mrs. Robert's recipes, the pie crust and the shortbread cookie.
It was alright.
My husband complained that it wasn't nearly sweet enough and the texture wasn't flaky at all.
On my second adaptation, I added honey and molasses on my baker friend's recommendation. They were a hit! Everyone in my family liked them, and my nephew couldn't stop asking for them.
However, I still wasn't done perfecting my recipe. I made it a third time, this time making the crackers a little bit thicker, they are a little on the cakey side for graham crackers, but everyone agreed that thicker was better.
So, if you are like my nephew, and in need of a gluten-free, dairy-free graham cracker recipe, here is one for your pleasure. Let me know what you think.

  • 18 tablespoons of vegan butter (you can use regular butter if you're not allergic to dairy)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups brown rice flour, minus 1 tablespoon
  • ½ cup and 2 tablespoons potato starch, this is not the same as potato flour
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 6 tablespoons sweet sourgum flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons xanthum gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon sugar for the top of the crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. In a bowl, mix sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, honey, and molasses together. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, sweet sourgum flour, cinnamon, baking powder, xanthum gum, and salt together. 

  3. With a fork, potato masher, or food processor mix the butter into the flour mixture, 6 tablespoons at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. 

  4. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

  5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. With a rubber spatula, spread the batter over two greased cookie sheets so that the dough is about a ¼ of an inch thick. It will be sticky and hard to get completely smooth, I know. Don't worry about it. It will be delicious all the same, even if it isn't perfectly level on top.

  7. Cover the top of the cookie with cinnamon sugar.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes
  9. Let cool completely, before cutting into squares.
  10. Enjoy. 
Note: on the Graham crackers shown, I made them a little too thick. If you do this, don't fret, they are great for making cheesecake crust, but a little bit more difficult for making s'mores.

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