Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Graham Crackers and "gingerbread" houses

I have yet to try this, but it looks really good. You won't taste the beans or the vinegar in it and the beans with the milk and grains makes this a complete protein.

Part A
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (save out about 1/4 cup. If flour is very absorbent, you won't need the full 1 3/4 cups, but if it's already absorbed a lot of humidity, you may need a bit more than the 1 3/4 cups. By saving some out, you won't have to add a bunch more water to have a workable dough.)
1/4 cups white bean flour
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
scant 1 teaspoon baking powder (scant=almost, but not quite, a full tsp, but more than 3/4 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Part B
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water

Place part A in a bowl and mix it together. Make a well in the center and add part B.
Mix until it forms a dough. Don't knead it, just get all the flour moist. This is where you'll find out if it needs more water or flour.

Roll out dough to about 1/8th thickness (you can roll it in parts and use 2 pencils as a guide to get an even thickness. Place pencils on either side of the dough mass that you want to roll. Using a rolling pin, slide the pin over the dough until the pin rests on the pencils. Sort of like the skids used to move heavy pieces of stone.) You can also roll it directly on your cookie sheet, but you'll need one without sides or a pin that will roll between the sides of your sheet. Make sure you spray your cookie sheet with no-stick stuff before you start. After it's rolled out, you'll need to score the dough or cut it into shapes with either a knife or have fun with your cookie cutters.

It's best to prick the dough with a fork to keep air bubbles from forming. They won't hurt anything, just don't look as tidy. Large pieces have to be pricked.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes one jelly roll size pan of crackers if it's just scored into squares. Two pans if you cut out shapes.

This would also make a good "clay" for an edible project (don't know if I'd want to eat it after the kids have played with it for a while, lol). Let the kids model with it and then bake it until it's dry. Then they can eat it (or not). I would have them make the project in a couple of hours time, not let it sit out overnight.

You could make figures out of it, but I'd bake them at about 200-250 so they get dry. I don't know how long, as how long to bake will depend on how big the pieces are. You can make your own Nativity set. (This will make brown people/buildings. I guess if you wanted white people/buildings, you can make a dough from either salt or cornstarch and use that for anything you wanted to be slightly off white (salt) or stark, bright white (cornstarch).) Any of the above will also make good things to make cutout ornaments with. I have a set of 12 Day of Christmas ones that I've used. I poked a good size hole in the end so I'd have an opening to thread so I could hang them.

For those whom don't like the taste of gingerbread, they could also use this in place of gingerbread to make "gingerbread houses". It would take a couple of recipes, or only make a smaller house.

Download a template from the net or design your own house, roll out dough and cut out. It's easy to do. Use a sharp knife and a straight edge to cut 7 squares. 4 for "walls", 2 for the "roof" and 1 cut on the diagonal for the 2 triangular pieces that go to hold the roof up on the ends.

Place on a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil or cover the cardboard with pretty paper then on top of that with plastic wrap. Make this larger than your house and you can landscape it. Use frosting or make "royal" icing to use as glue - any kind that will dry. White icing makes "snow" and chocolate blends in with the brown to look like mortar.

Either use a pastry bag and a tip or fill a zip-type bag and just cut a very small corner off of it and pipe a layer of frosting on the sides of all the "walls" to get them together. Next put some on the bottom edges so it will stay on your cardboard base and place on the covered cardboard. Then attach the roof pieces. Glue all sides of every piece so that it will hold. You may want to let 10 mins go by to let the pieces harden a bit before you move them around. So do some gluing, let the pieces dry for a few minutes, then move them and add some more pieces. I'd let it sit for about an hour before I decorated it, just so the glue will have a chance to set better.

Now you're ready to decorate. Use whatever you've used for "glue" to hold your decorations on. Any type of candy is fair game. Just use your imagination. Dinner mints can be sidewalks or paving. regular chocolate-covered mints can be shingles or paving stones. Roll out gumdrops and cut into shapes, or make trees out of them. Lollipops make good trees too. Hard candies in a Christmas assortment (out at this time of year) make good pieces for decorating. Use some of the round pieces with the decorated centers for the "windows".

Or, before you bake the dough, cut "windows" in your wall pieces and add some crushed "lifesaver" type candies inside the cut-out square for stained glass. While the dough bakes, the candy melts and it looks pretty. Just crush the pieces very small and let it sit on the tray for a minute or two when it comes out of the oven so that the candy will harden a little before you move it.

Add a steeple and make a church. Only use 3 walls and make an open house that is decorated inside as well as out. Have fun and let the kids have fun. You're not making a piece of art for a prize, you're just having fun. Rustic is good! Don't worry that it's not "squared" or "perfect". You can buy perfect from the store, already done up. No fun to be had, but hey it's PERFECT. (or not. take a close look at store bought stuff and see the flaws in it.)

One last tip, if you don't want to make your own graham crackers, buy the store ones and use them to make little house with. You can make a whole village out of a single box. It takes 2 long pieces, broken where it's scored in half for the 4 walls. Another long piece, broken in half for two sections of the roof and another 1/2 piece, cut on the diagonal (a tricky cut, saw gently with a serrated knife to keep from breaking the cracker) for the two roof ends.

Hey, use some of those new mini, mini-lights and light your village with them.

Great gifts for grandma and grandpa from the younglings.

Or make "kits" either before baking the dough or after and let the grandparents play with the kids with this. (Remember if you give a before baking kit, it only works if there's an oven going to be available to bake the dough. Otherwise bake "blanks" and let whomever gets it do their own decorating.

So you kit would include either the dough ingredients layered in a pint jar with a list of the wet ingredients needed, plus the instructions. Or the dough that has been pre-made into the correct shapes and baked. With either one, include the fixings and instructions for the "glue", an assortment of candies (homemade or store bought), a pre-covered base and any other goodies you'd like to add.

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