Once you’ve had homemade Graham Crackers you’ll have a hard time ever buying a box of commercial ones. Now, graham flour is just a particular coarseness of whole wheat flour so you’ll find the fine whole wheat flour you can grind on your own mill a perfect match with this recipe.
You’ll find loads of recipes for graham crackers that date to your grandmother’s time – and the resources she had in her kitchen. They take a few extra steps that you can bypass making the production of these graham crackers faster and easier.
Rolling graham crackers between silicon baking sheets speeds production
The key here is using silicon baking sheets. The old way of rolling out the dough called for mixing and then chilling the dough for a half hour. This hardens the butter which makes it less sticky when rolled out between the two sheets of parchment paper. But, silicon baking sheets are so much better that if you are using them you can skip the chilling step completely. Simply roll out the dough between two of the sheets and then peel of the upper sheet. At this point you can score the dough to lay out the cracker shapes, slide it onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven.
This recipe is enough to make about two dozen full graham crackers with a bunch of not quite full sized squared for crushing for use in pie crusts, and can be fitted on two baking sheets. I usually double this, but then I’m usually into mass production. That double recipe takes about a total of four sheets, which can be accomplished in two goes.
Bread Dough rolled out, oiled and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and ready to be rolled up
It’s telling that a whole franchise – and a rather successful on at that – can be built on one very narrow product – cinnamon buns. I guess, upon further reflection I guess that isn’t so unique, but it may be a bit telling as to how easily many of us part with cash that we’d be willing to pay such a premium for what is really a very simple bread product.
If you haven’t made cinnamon buns at home you should. The process is really very simple – and the bread machine takes all of the real effort out of the process.
This is one more case where silicon bakeware really shines. Cleanup of any sugary “leakage” from the buns is easily snacked on or washed up.
Cinnamon buns ready for second rise before going in the oven
For soft sided buns put the dough into a pan so that when doubled in bulk the buns contact each other, if you want harder outer crusts place them on a baking sheet with separation between the buns.
I always find it cool how changing even a single variable can significantly change the outcome. That is as true in baking as it is in many other domains.
English muffins are a great example of this. They are just regular bread dough that is cooked on the griddle rather than baked in the oven… simple enough right – but would you have guessed how easy their preparation was before now?
Certainly they are sold in stores at a premium – but you can turn them out easily at home.
Whole wheat English Muffins in the frypan
English muffin rings are certainly not necessary, and personally I would never have purchased them. Rather I have two dozen that I made up from salvaged stainless steel sheets. They are nice in that they give uniform muffins, but the real reason I enjoy using them is that I get a kick out of having fabricated them myself from scrap.
If you make bread you quickly come to understand just how versatile a good standard dough, such as this whole wheat bread recipe, can be.
Whole Wheat Apple Braid
You can make bread of course, but we’ve also covered how you can turn it into standard buns, and fancy buns, cinnamon buns, bagels, pizza, and now fruit braids.
One of the reasons why this is such an attractive proposition in my mind is that I can produce a single batch of bread dough and split it to produce two very different products… usually something like buns and then something sweet, and fruit braids are a great option to keep in your baking pocket.
Apple Braid right out of the oven
Really you roll out the dough divide it into thirds, and cut the outer two segments so that they can be braided over the fruit mounded in the center.
In my house the fruit filling often is apples and cinnamon with a bit of sugar in large part because I tend to harvest and process so many apples.
Give it a try when you next make a batch of bead dough.
These whole wheat sugar cookies can be whipped up in a few minutes, no fuss no muss – and they are great cookies. The combination of the nutmeg with the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour makes for a great combination. In fact, because of this no-nut nuttiness flavor they add great variety to the school lunchbox – and I’m assuming that if you have kids their schools is likely a nut free zone too.
Junior Baker engaged in cookie fabrication!
Quick easy recipes like this are an awesome way to introduce the younger members of the family to the joys of cooking. Get them hooked on this and other skills and you’ll probably give them a better foundation for a happy life than those “nut free” schools.
Combined with letting the kids go from whole grain to whole grain flours on the home built grain mill – that they can take apart and adjust – to cookies that go into their lunches and get offered up to friends and family with pride is such a cool way to demystify food.
I grew up picking blueberries around our cottage in Northern Ontario… and not just picking a sour cream container worth to get enough to sprinkle on cereal in the morning but rather enough to fill freezers with blue bounty to last until the next season.
I still pick large amounts of blueberries, I’ve become pretty practiced and can usually out pick the other members of my family and now I have my kids along with me – learning to be comfortable in the bush, as well as gaining an understanding of the lasting reward that hard work can bring through a year of blueberries in baking.
These blueberry muffins call for whole barley flour – my preferred whole grain flour for sweet quick breads, I find the taste sweeter than whole wheat flour. Given I also like to diversify the grains in my diet this is also a good means of achieving that. But, if you don’t have access to whole barley flour substitute whole wheat.
Enjoy these, and if you can get out picking take some time to sit in the bush, let your hands do the work while your mind gets to ponder over the issues of the day.
Mocha cookies made with barley flour – together with milk!
There are requests, there are pleas and then there are demands. These cookies demand a tall glass of ice cold milk. In fact the dairy farmers should be handing out these very cookies to folk approaching grocery store cashes who don’t have milk in their basket! They are frankly awesome.
Now, some chocolate cookies have loads of oooey gooey good chocolate in them. These by contrast don’t overwhelm you with that taste – but they are addictive!
If you want to have folks rethink baking with whole grain flours – these might just be the way to win them over.
Apple see a lot of use in my home. Our fall harvests from the neighborhood trees in a good year can be substantial. The best of these are kept for fresh eating, seconds are peeled, sliced and dried or frozen for pies, apple braids and the like, those that are a bit softer get transformed into apple sauce that we can, and finally the really bruised ones get turned into apple cider on the homestead press.
Apple Spice Loaf with Barley Flour
So we end up using a lot of apple sauce through the season, and this apple spice loaf is one of my favorite recipes. It’s a quick loaf – so it honestly doesn’t take more than five minutes to mix the ingredients, put it into a silicon loaf pan (which means I don’t even need to take the time to butter and flour the pan) making it a cinch to pull together. In spite of being so easy – it is a lovely loaf the blend of apple and spices is lovely. While the loaf is a great accompaniment for a nice cup of tea or coffee it most often serves as a bread substitute in our lunches, adding variety to our brown bags. Made with whole grain flour – and I usually use whole barley flour for quick breads – it fills you up and keeps you satiated.
I think this is a pretty good example of better living today – you get a great rich filling and wholesome loaf, add diversity to your meals that sees you content to skip the cafeteria line for lunches and uses some of the bounty around us. It is also a great example of how easily all this can be pulled together. It honestly takes more time to wash the bowl than it does to prepare the batter and slide it into the oven.
Of course, you don’t need to use your own apple sauce or even flour you’ve produced at home to get a very nice product. So take five minutes to make this apple spice loaf and add some great baking to your lunches.
Rhubarb is a great plant to have in your garden and deserts made from it serve as an awesome culinary awakening for deserts to be offered up fresh from the new season. It’s such an easy perennial crop to have that you should be growing it.
There are so many great options for deserts and preserves using rhubarb but this has to be my favorite. In fact it’s what I made with today’s first harvest of rhubarb. The sweet richness of the custard combines so wonderfully with the bite from the rhubarb it’s an absolute delight.
Rhubarb custard pie components ready for assembly
I used whole wheat pie shells, but you could use shells made with white flour or purchased if necessary (but really, if you can bake something like this, and certainly if you grow some of your own food you should consider building a grain mill for yourself – it’s well within your capacity)
Even better this recipe can be whipped together in only a minute or two. Click on the post title for the full recipe.
You might reject the idea of using whole wheat flour for pie shells and other sweet products. That would be short sighted. Whole grain flours add wonderful flavor that is missing from white flour where all the flavor has been removed.
A few amendments need to be made to account for the lesser ratio of gluten compared to recipes which feature white flour, but these are easily done.
Whole wheat pie crust rolled out on parchment paper
I know a lot of folks are intimidated by the prospect of making pastry, and it can be a challenge to roll out and transfer the crust into the pie shell. While you can chill the dough to make it easier to roll out an even easier way to get the job done is to roll out the crust on parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet. Then place a pie tin on top of the crust, slip a hand under the parchment or silicon sheet and flip everything over, then gently peel the parchment from the crust.
If you have any breaks fix those by pressing the crust together with your fingers and trim the crust that overhangs the pie tin.
This recipe yields about five 9″ pie shells – if you make a double crust pie you’ll use two crusts.