Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

Having to be gluten-free, I have missed graham crackers. Graham crackers are needed to make s'mores. Who doesn't like graham crackers with peanut butter? Almost nothing can beat the merge of a graham cracker crust and cheesecake. I've been talking about making gluten-free graham crackers for a year and it is time to get with it!

I sampled several commercial graham crackers. I think Kinnikinnick, Smoreable Graham Style Crackers are relatively close to "real" graham crackers but they are made from white and brown rice. As most all gluten-free baked goods, they are expensive, especially compared to the number of crackers in the box.

Origin of the Graham Cracker

To make a good gluten-free graham cracker, I wanted to know; what is a graham cracker? I am finding that to make a good gluten-free substitute, I must know what makes a good gluten cracker.

The graham cracker was developed by Sylvester Graham in 1829.  He was a minister and vegetarian. He avidly promoted the use of unsifted, coarsely milled wheat flour. He thought the high fiber of the flour was better for the human diet. The flour's name became graham flour.

Graham flour is more coarsely ground than whole wheat flour. Both contain the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat kernel.

Substitutions for Graham Flour

That said, then the true graham cracker is made from the special whole wheat flour. So, the whole wheat flour cannot be used in a gluten-free diet. What to do for a replacement?  Most gluten-free bakers are using white rice flour and brown rice flour. Many of us don't use rice flour, especially brown rice flour. There are several reasons - the main focus is on a high glycemic index and arsenic. Rice flours are used so much in gluten-free flour mixes because it is cheaper.  Brown rice usually works as a substitute for wheat flour. Finally, rice flours usually make a great product, as stated by the American Test Kitchen. I hate to be at odds with the American Test Kitchen, but there are other choices that are more healthy.

The highly recommended recipe for gluten-free graham crackers is the recipe by Rebecca Reilly.  I found it in a magazine, Living Without's: Gluten Free & More. I investigated the flour blend used in the recipe and, yup, there was white and brown rice flour.  Fortunately it also contained sorghum, tapioca, potato starch, amaranth, millet or quinoa or oat. It was close in ingredients to  the whole grain flour blend (70% grains-30% starch) that I make of oat flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, sorghum, bean flour, masa haring, amaranth, teff, buckwheat, tapioca starch, corn starch and potato starch.

There is a company that makes a blend similar to this. The company is Maninis and they sell their flours and pasta through Amazon. The company makes no flour blends with rice. It is rather expensive as with most all gluten-free ingredients.

Lowering the Glycemic Index

The second change I made in the Reilly recipe was to lower the glycemic index of the graham crackers.  I substituted part of the brown sugar for a sugar substitute, though I don't show it in the recipe. I used 1/4 cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons Stevia in the Raw. Some sugar is needed for helping with the protein structure and tenderness. Of course, it gives sweetness also.

Substitutions for the Gums

The third substitution I made in the recipe was 1 tablespoon of seed dust for the xanthan gum. The seed dust contains flaxseed, chia seeds and psyllium, ground in a coffee mill.  Some gluten-free bakers substitute just the psyllium. Many bakers now use only psyllium, rather than gums. I like the seed dust because it works as a great binder, adds nutrients and adds taste.

Making the Graham Cracker Dough

I hand blended the butter into the flour mixture the first and second time I made the crackers.  The third time I used this recipe, I didn't have success using the food processor to blend the butter into the flour mixture.  The processed dough was much to soft and greasy. I think I need to learn how many times to pulse the dough. I may have over blended the dough.

When I made the graham cracker dough the first time, I made crackers with the dough after 1 hour in the refrigerator. (I was so excited to try the graham crackers, and could hardly wait). Compared to wheat flour, it takes gluten-free flours longer to hydrate and distribute the moisture. I had to add a little flour because it was slightly too sticky to roll out.

The other half of the dough spent the night in the fridge. It wasn't as sticky but still needed a little flour to help roll out the crackers. I eventually solved the sticky problem so the dough didn't need extra flour.

Once the liquid ingredients are added to the dry buttered ingredients,
the dough may seem to be very crumbly. The dough will work 
together by kneading the dough a few times. The plastic wrap can 
help work  the dough together without adding any extra liquid. (Why 
red plastic wrap?  I have red, yellow, green, purple, & blue boxes
left over from students performing light experiments in the 
chemistry classroom. Going to get those experiments posted some day. )

The Reilly recipe states to roll the crackers with parchment paper above and below the dough. Some bakers prefer to use plastic wrap or wax paper. I've tried all three but prefer to place the dough on parchement and use plastic wrap on top of the dough. Rolling out the dough using the parchment on bottom and plastic wrap on top requires no extra flour and it is easy to see the dough as it is rolled.

Roll the dough toward the edge of paper and turn the whole unit, paper and dough.  Repeat the process until the dough is about 1/8" thickness. (No extra flour is needed with this method!) Remove the plastic wrap. Cut the dough with a knife, pizza cutter or pastry cutter into 2x3-inch rectangles.

Holes in the dough are requires to let the steam out and help the cracker cook evenly. I've tried several methods for making the holes. I've used a dinner fork and other times, a meat serving fork. The very best method, I found, is to pierce each cracker with the flat end of a wooden skewer.  The first time I did it, I thought the holes might be too big but the wooden skewer holes are perfect after baking. I have found the dinner fork holes to completely close up during baking.

Leave the cut dough on the parchement paper.  Slide the parchment paper into the pan and bake. When the crackers come out of the oven, the crackers needed 5 minute rest time on the parchment.  They are very delicate coming out of the oven. Remove the crackers to a cooling rack. (The best cooling rack for delicate gluten-free cookies and crackers is a grid cooling rack.) The crackers will firm up and be snappy by the time they are cool.

S'Mores made with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and
the homemake gluten-free graham crackers.  Taste - fantastic!

Graham crackers  (makes about 3 dozen)

2 1/4  cups gluten free flour (70%-30%) blend (see below)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or 1/4 cup Stevia brown sugar blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon seed dust
7 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
2-3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar (optional)


1. Mix together gluten-free flour mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, seed dust and salt.

2. Using a pastry blender, work cold butter into dry ingredients.

3. In a small bowl, combine honey, cold water, and vanilla. Stir the honey mixture into the dry ingredients. If dough is too dry, add a little more cold water, a teaspoon at a time.

4. Gather dough into a soft ball, using the plastic wrap if needed. Cover in the plastic wrap, or drop into zippered plastic bag,  and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper the size of the baking pan.

6. Place the prepared parchment paper on working counter and place 1/3 to 1/2 of dough on the parchment paper. Cover the dough with wax paper or plastic wrap the size of the parchment. Roll the dough between the parchment and wax paper (or plastic wrap) to about ⅛-inch thickness, or how thick you like your graham crackers. Remove the top sheet that was used for rolling.

7. Cut into 2 x 3-inch pieces with a knife, pizza cutter or pastry cutter and prick lightly 4-5 times with a fork or flat end of wooden skewer. With the dough still on the parchment paper, place the parchment paper in the pan. (Again, don't try to remove the dough from the parchment paper until baked.)

8.  Repeat steps 6 and 7 for remaining dough as many times as needed to finish rolling the dough.

9. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness of dough) or until golden brown. If cookies spread and bake together, re-cut while still warm. The graham crackers are very delicate while hot. If wanted, the very warm graham crackers can be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

10. Let cookies cool slightly before transferring to cooling rack. As the graham crackers cool, they will become firm and crisp. When completely cool, store in airtight container

Haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure these graham crackers can be made chocolate with the addition of 1/3-1/2 cup cocoa powder and maybe another 3 tablespoons water.  In a few weeks, I'll try making them -- cutting out little stars and little bears. I will update when I do. There is always experimenting fun in my kitchen!

Graham Crackers -- first try.  Great taste but not pretty.
The look of the crackers improved by rolling a little thicker
and using a wooden skewer to make the holes.

Whole Grain Flour Blend (70% whole grain - 30% starch)

The idea for developing this flour blend came from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.  There is a list of flours from which to choose to make flour blends.


200 g ( 1 2/3 cup) oat flour
50 g (about 1/2 cup) millet flour
100 g (about 1 cup) quinoa flour
100 g (3/4 c + 3 tb) sorghum flour
50 g bean (about 1/2 c)(fava &  
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) (corn flour (masa
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) amaranth flour
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb)teff flour
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) buckwheat flour


100g (3/4 c) tapioca flour
100 g (3/4 + 3 tb) corn starch
100 g (3/4 + 2tb) c + potato starch

The blend becomes light and fluffy when the starches are added. This blend has a great taste!

Homemade graham crackers with peanut butter.
Any choice of butter can be used.  Wonderful to have again!

To cut out the little pigs, cats, elephant and teddy bears, roll
dough on parchment as usual. Place the parchment on the
baking pan.Then, freeze the dough. Once frozen 20 minutes,
use the cutters to cut out cookies. Run a knife under the dough
and gently pop the cookie out. Reroll the leftover dough and
freeze again or make squares without freezing. Bake the little
cookie grahams 6-7 minutes. Watch carefully. They burn quickly!


Bellis, Mary. "Sylvester Graham - History of Graham Crackers." Inventors., 05 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.<>

"Frequently Asked Questions." Food Safety Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015. <>

"Gluten-Free Graham Crackers - Recipes Article." Living Without's Gluten Free & More. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.<>

"Graham Crackers Were Originally Meant to Be Part of a Diet Thought to Curb Sexual Urges." Today I Found Out RSS. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

"Home Baking Association: Providing Tools and Knowledge to Perpetuate Generations of Home Bakers." N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan.2015

"How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports." How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.<>

"How to Make a Gluten-free Whole-grain Flour Mix - Gluten Free Girl and the Chef." Gluten Free Girl and the Chef RSS. N.p., 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.<>

"How to Make Cinnamon Sugar." WikiHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Disclosure Statement:
I have not received compensation for any products mentioned or used in this post.

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