Going through yoga teacher training is exhausting and exhilarating. You leave with a love of movement, a respect for your body, a peace of mind and most of the all, the intense drive to share yoga with everyone. I left my first teacher training exhilarated. I have never felt so open and free to be in my life. My skin tingled with sensation every time a loved one brushed my arm. The sky was always blue, the sidewalk GOLD. I wanted everyone to feel how yoga has made me feel.
Not so simple. Being a great teacher takes time. It takes experience, knowledge, the ability to keep constantly learning and failing and doing it all again. All of that leads to exhaustion - physically and mentally. I started this journey two years ago and now I’m into IT. It requires one to always be a student even when you are the teacher. And as I delve deeper and deeper each day, I’m learning more and more how to listen to myself. There are times when I am so drained, I feel like an empty vessel ready to float away. Often after a day of teaching and studying, the mere act of talking can be a chore worse than cleaning the bathroom.
The thing is, is that I do love teaching. I love being tired at the end of the day from working hard and not from being irritated from whatever office politics I had to deal with. I worked my body, my heart, my soul fully. But when one does that, we must refill our coffers so to speak. We have to refill so we have more to give. When something speaks to us, we have to go for it. And for me, that’s baking. Yesterday specifically, graham crackers.
I first made them for Valentines Day. My Valentine is into them, specifically when they are layered in-between chocolate pudding. I made both from scratch, because that’s what I like to do. I used this graham cracker recipe from Food52. It was good but the graham flour made things a bit too nutty for me. Yesterday I delved into this recipe from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery as found on Smitten Kitchen and 101Cookbooks. The result was much much better and while it required the extra step of re-chilling the dough before baking, it was totally worth the extra time. Next time I will replace a 1/2 cup of the flour with graham flour to see how that effects things. The bake time calls for 25 minutes. This makes a very crisp cracker. I would check after 20. I pulled mine out after 22 minutes. Enjoy!
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.
Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.