So…these might just be my family’s favorite non-chocolate cookie ever and that’s saying a lot for a bunch of cookie monsters! Of course there’s a story behind them, isn’t there always?…
These Whole Wheat Graham “Jumbles” as I so affectionately refer to them, are based on Stella Parks’ recipe for Crispy Whole Wheat Graham Crackers in BraveTart which I promised to share with you last week. I first attempted these about 3 months ago but almost threw the uncooked dough away because it was so crumbly and wouldn’t roll out the way it was supposed to. But my genius, optimistic daughter averted that tragedy by convincing me to bake them anyway—thank goodness or we might never know the magic of these wonderful, but not exactly uniform, treats!
After much taste testing for ahem, scientific reasons, I set out to bake another batch the very next day, following the recipe directions to a T. Oh sure, that wonderful buttery, cinnamon-y flavor shone through and the cookies were perfectly crisp with that added oomph of heartiness from the whole wheat flour, but they still wouldn’t roll out neatly the way they were supposed to. Was I discouraged? A little. Was I about to let a cookie get the better of me? Heck no. Not for a minute.
I was a woman on a mission..Since the original recipe said you can use a bunch of different sweeteners and I had used honey both times, I thought that maybe that was the problem so I hunted down a bottle of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (a British specialty that’s kind of a thick, treacle-y sugar syrup) and got to work. We all thought that Lyle made the cookies taste even better than they did with the honey, but I still wound up with jumbles.
Then I had the brilliant idea that weighing the flour might do the trick because maybe I was adding too much by simply going the measuring cup route and that that was causing the dryness of the dough, but…Nope.
I even got in touch with Stella and she was gracious enough to not only answer me with helpful tips but also included a video of her actually rolling out the dough perfectly. Needless to say, I didn’t get her results.
However, as the weeks turned into months and we kept nibbling away, I decided to stop fighting and just embrace these strangely shaped treats. Besides after baking that many batches, I had come up with my own coping mechanisms and techniques.
I realized that I just had to accept that the dough would be a big crumbly, unruly mass but that in the end, the cookies would still be beautiful, in that inner beauty sort of way. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
Now, rather than stressing out about rolling the dough into a single sheet, baking and then cutting into squares, I form the dough into a sort of thickish rectangle—
Roll it out roughly—
Partition it into small sections and roll those out as thinly as possible—
Cut those up at random and then bake.
Which means that what you wind up with is an eclectic mix of addictively crunchy, almost-melt-in-your-mouth, best graham crackers you’ve ever had. Some of them will be nearly perfect rectangles and squares and some will have nubby, cracked edges and resemble the Hawaiian Islands. Who cares when your kitchen smells divine and the cookies taste even better than they smell?!!
Oh, the lengths I will go to for the perfect cookie! Bake up a batch yourself and start your own story today!
Whole Wheat Graham Jumbles
Makes about 2 dozen cookies—all different sizes
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes; Bake Time: 15-18 minutes
3/4 cup (5 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (use half as much if iodized)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup (3 ounces) Lyle’s golden syrup or honey
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature—you should be able to easily push into it with your finger but you don’t want it to be melted and runny
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling out (not stone-ground or white whole wheat)
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Have a couple of rimmed cookie sheets on hand.
2. Into the bowl of your electric mixer, place the sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, golden syrup and butter. Mix on low speed until moistened, then increase to medium speed and beat well, until everything is incorporated and the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On low speed, add the flour and mix until a soft dough forms. It will look kind of sandy and crumbly. That is ok.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board or surface and knead the dough until it all comes together. Divide it in half and shape each piece into a rough 5x6-inch rectangle. Sprinkle one of the halves with some flour, flip over and sprinkle the other side as well. Working from the center out, roll out the dough with a well floured rolling pin until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. No matter what you do, it is going to crack a bit and not roll out perfectly. This is ok. What I like to do is concentrate on getting a section thinly rolled out, ‘cause these are amazing when they are as thin as possible. When a section is thin enough I use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut cookie sized pieces and then use a bench scraper or spatula to transfer them to the unlined sheets, leaving just about an inch between the cookies. Some will be fairly symmetrical squares and rectangles, other shapes will look like South America. Again no worries. Gather up any scraps and re-roll until all of the dough is used up.
4. Bake one sheet at a time. After 10 minutes, turn the sheet front to back and bake for another 5 minutes or a bit longer, until cookies are a deep golden color and firm—they will harden as they cool. Let cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Then transfer to the rack to finish cooling completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Note: Recipe adapted from BraveTart. I didn’t change the ingredients or proportions but my rolling and baking techniques are entirely different.