A while back, I got it into my head that I wanted to make Granita biscuits. I searched the web, assuming I would find a recipe – you can find anything on the web – except, it seems, a recipe for Granita biscuits. All the hits I got were from distressed expat US citizens asking where could they find Graham Crackers. Their pleas were heart wrenching. Mostly, they wanted to make a biscuit base for a cheese cake and, it appears, this cannot be done without Graham Crackers. In most cases, another expat came to their aid and suggested Granita biscuits would make a suitable (if inferior) substitute.
Mmm … if Granita biscuits are a substitute for Graham Crackers then, logically, Graham Crackers may be a substitute for Granita biscuits.
Graham Crackers are traditionally made with Graham Flour. Here is a little excerpt about Graham flour from Wikipedia. It is very interesting.
Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour named after the American Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794–1851), an early advocate for dietary reform. Graham despised the discarding of nutrients and bleaching with alum and chlorine involved in making white flour and white bread, and believed that using all of the grain (without adding chemicals) in the milling of flour and baking of bread, was a remedy for the poor health of his fellow Americans during changes in diet brought on by the Industrial Revolution.
Rather than simply grinding the whole grain wheat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), in roller-milled graham flour the components are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely, initially creating a fresh unbleached yellowish-white flour. The bran and germ are ground coarsely. The two parts are then recombined, creating a coarse-textured flour that bakes and keeps well (has a good shelf life). Graham flour is used to make graham crackers and pie crusts, among other things.
You could probably get Graham Flour here. Bob’s Red Mill makes it and I have seen Bob’s Red Mill flours at Kakulas Sister in Nollamara, though whole meal flour and wheat germ are more readily available.
Sadly, these biscuits do not taste like Granitas. The inclusion of the cinnamon does them in … but I think if you omit the cinnamon, the taste would be very similar.
Not ever having tasted Graham Crackers, I have no idea if they taste like them. To me, they taste a little like mild Speculaas. I am very fond of plain biscuits and these are very, very nice. I will definitely be making these again.
The recipe I follow indicated square biscuits were the go. I made mine into 12cm squares – the squares were then divided into four with the internal edges scored. The biscuits are broken into 60cm squares after they are cooked. Instead of squares, you could certainly make them round using a scone cutter. I am going to make them round next time and omit the cinnamon. Granitas, here we come! In the mean time, these are a pleasant substitute.
This is an American recipe so the cups are eight fluid ounces (236 mils) but I used standard 250 mils cups and all was well. Next time Maus’ sister goes to the States visiting her son, I am going to ask her to get me some US cup measurements.
The recipe comes from marthastewart.com.
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 1 cup whole meal flour
- ½ cup wheat germ
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 tbs* honey
*These are 15 mil tablespoons.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Whisk the flours, wheat germ, salt, bicarb soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer, mix the butter, brown sugar and honey until pale and fluffy.
- Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface. The dough should be quite dry but moist enough to form a ball. If it’s too dry, add a drop or two of water. The ability of flours to absorb moisture varies so always hold back a bit of the water, adding the balance, and a bit more, if required.
- Roll out the dough. I intended to use my pasta maker to roll the dough but it didn’t work. I had to use a rolling pin. The dough is quite crumbly so it would be hard to roll out all the dough as one. Divide it into four or five pieces and roll out each piece separately.
- Roll a piece into a square. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut out a 12 centimetre square of dough. Divide the square into quarters. Press lightly, when making the internal lines so as not to cut all the way through.
- Once formed, put the biscuits in the fridge until firm.
- Pierce the crackers using a fork.
- Bake, rotating halfway through, until dark golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes. The trick is to ensure the biscuits are dry but not too brown. After the baking time ended, I turned the oven right down and left the biscuits in there for a further 10 minutes to dry them out.
- Let the biscuits cool on the tray for five minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.