Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homemade Graham Crackers


Hello everyone!

The second cracker I made for the Daring Baker challenge of this month was graham crackers. After I'd made the Cheez-its, I wanted to try something sweet. The first cracker type that came up when I Google-d sweet crackers were graham crackers and that definitely sparked an interest.

In my house, we always most definitely absolutely must have a box of graham crackers lying around all the time in case my family needs a quick cheesecake fix... which is quite often. When I saw the recipe for the graham crackers, I started wondering if I could make even the crackers for the crust of the cheesecakes from scratch. Wouldn't that be so cool? And the crackers for smores. Oh man, that would be heavenly.

Needless to say, I ended up making the graham crackers and judging by my siblings, parents, and friends reactions, they were a success. All I can say is that as of now, there are no more graham crackers left.

My siblings loved the crackers with honey nut cream cheese and strawberry jam.

Homemade Graham Crackers
(Around 4 dozen crackers)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into even cubes
1/4 cup honey
sugar and sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Steps



To a food processor, add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, dark brown sugar, fine grain sea salt, and cinnamon, pulsing to combine.


Add the butter and honey, processing until the mixture comes together. It will look crumbly at first, but will eventually moisten up and clump together.


Turn the dough out onto a work surface (I used my silpat) and form into a ball. Cut the ball in half then form each half into a log shape. Wrap each log in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or freezer for about 15-30 minutes. You want the dough to be cold and slightly firm.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.


Take one of the logs from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a lightly floured work surface.
Using a knife, slice the log into 1/8" thick crackers. Pierce each cracker with a fork  or chopstick several times then sprinkle with sugar and sea salt (if using).


Transfer baking sheets to the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 13 – 14 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crackers rest on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat this process with the remaining log of dough.


Enjoy! Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @warif93!

Homemade Cheez-its!


For the July Daring Baker's Challenge, we had to make two different crackers. You could make any two crackers you like as long as you make them in two separate ways. So, unquestionably, the first thing that came to my head when I thought of what cracker to make was cheese. I mean, who doesn't love cheese? Now there are loads of other types of cheese-y crackers I could have made but Cheez-its were the first to come to mind.

One of the reasons why I was so excited to make Cheez-its specifically, is because I don't normally eat store bought Cheez-its because of religious dietary restrictions. The cheese used in the store bought variety contains enzymes and whey derived from animal sources. Though I haven't had store bought Cheez-its for more than a decade, I still have fond memories of snacking on Cheez-its and goldfish crackers as a kid. So, when I was given this chance to make the crackers using my own ingredients, I grabbed it.

(Warning! This next schpiel is mainly interesting to vegetarians and Muslims. ;D) Now, one of the most common questions I get asked is what cheese do I use - Tillamook cheese. The Tillamook brand of cheese uses only the freshest and fewest ingredients in all their cheeses. They also use microbial sources to culture their milk. So, if you're worried about which cheese is okay for Muslims to use, never fear, Tillamook is here! ;)

Homemade Cheez-its
(Makes approximately 15 dozen crackers)

Ingredients
1 8-oz block extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ice water

Steps

        
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheddar, butter, and salt until soft and homogenous. 


Add the flour and mix on low speed; the dough will be dry and pebbly. 


Slowly add the water and continue to mix as the dough coalesces into a mass


Pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

 
Preheat the oven to 375˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10×12-inch rectangle. 


Using a fluted pastry cutter (or just a plain old knife like I did), cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer to the baking sheets. Use the tip of a chopstick to punch a hole into the center of each square.


Bake for 17 minutes or until puffed and browning at the edges. I found that in my oven, I only had to bake it for around 10-12 minutes so this time can be very subjective. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes it a fine line between golden delicious and burnt. Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.


Enjoy! Also, I've made an Instagram, finally! Don't forget to follow me @warif93

DB July Challenge: Crazy For Crackers

Hello everyone!

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

The two crackers I chose to make were graham crackers and Cheez-its! I can assure you that both crackers were loads of fun to make.

You can find the posts on the crackers and their recipes here:






So the main rule of this challenge was to make these crackers by using different rolling and shaping methods for each cracker. I decided to go with the traditional hand rolling and non-traditional icebox shaping methods.


Here I rolled out the dough for the Cheez-its using a rolling pin and cut square shapes using a knife.


For the graham crackers, I formed the dough into a log shape and chilled it. Then I cut it into crackers by slicing it thinly. This is the non-traditional icebox method of forming the crackers.

Though both methods worked great for me, I can definitely say that I prefer the icebox method. It was a lot faster and less frustrating (no crackers tearing apart the second I try to lift them onto the tray). However, the crackers of the other method were a lot more clean cut and consistent in shape and thickness. I'm sure they would have been even more so if I had used a cookie cutter.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the Daring Baker challenge of this month. It was super fun and something that people normally don't even think of doing. I mean, who makes their own crackers these days? But the results were pleasing and the process was fun. I know I'll definitely be making those Cheez-its again!

DB June Challenge: Walnut and Coffee Battenberg Cake


Hello everyone!

Today I'm going to be sharing the second recipe I made on Father's Day with you. The cake, Walnut and Coffee Battenberg Cake, was actually the Daring Baker's challenge for July 2012.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.


Personally, I found this cake easy to make but making it was such a hassle. So many steps, so many little things to do. I can't say I wasn't pleased with the results though -- the cake was delicious! The recipe and instructions from Mandy are below!

Walnut and Coffee Battenberg Cake
Serves 10-15

Ingredients


You're also going to need 1 cup Marzipan, natural or yellow to finish.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease an 8” square baking tin with butter.


3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil).
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring.



5. Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.


6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts.
7. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
8. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined
9. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner


11. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack


13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
14. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
15. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible

Coffee Buttercream 

Ingredients:
½ cup Unsalted Butter
2 cups Powdered (Icing/Confectioners') Sugar
½ tsp Instant Coffee
1½ tsp Milk or Cream


16. Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined.


17. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern.


18. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake.
19. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.


20. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down.
21. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides.
22. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over.
23. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate.
24. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern..

Then you're done! Enjoy and be sure to send me pics of your completed cakes.

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