French Fridays with Dorie
Well, if renovation and reinvention cause me to work up a thirst I know now that natural disaster, environmental destruction and human tragedy of epic proportions will likely kill my appetite for cooking up much of anything. This week’s sorrowful events have left me with nearly zero drive for ‘chefing it up’ or blog writing. Were it not for French Friday’s with Dorie I doubt that I would have even turned on the oven or broken an egg this week. My kitchen is a good sport and so it still tried to cheer me up. It hasn’t been easy. Walking into it usually separates me from the everyday stresses and challenges life will throw my way. Perhaps it is because these irritants in my life suddenly seem so minor and inconsequential that the kitchen now seems a bit unnecessary?
I’ll snap out of it –if there were to be any week for the Doristas to be assigned a recipe such as this – this was the week. Not being up for much fuss this one delivers. Only 5 ingredients that everyone should have them handy (if you don’t count water!)
Mix ’em up, chill the dough, roll it out, score it, bake it. There. Done. All that is left to do is let your lucky friends break off a piece and chew on its sweet salty goodness. They are sure to like the control that comes from picking out the piece they think they will like best. Dark and toasty? Light and chewy? Its all here and quite pretty to look at too as it gets reduced piece by piece.
This cookie is like a French lady with a scarf. Something so simple yet done in such a way as to be something quite special and uniquely beautiful. So simple in fact that at first I surprised to see it in the book and yet by experiencing its easy elegance and style I now see it demands inclusion.
Dorie’s recipe is all over the net by the hundreds so I’m going to repost it here. Besides, I think she may have even posted it herself more than once. Not all salts are created equal. If you use sel gris you might consider upping the amount called for in the recipe. I ended up using a full 50% more than the recipe calls for and it was perfect. I reserved some to sprinkled over the top since that is quite trendy these days. I made two batches but the one I let chill in the refrigerator for 3 days before baking was over the top fantastic. Despite this, this cookie’s beauty and style is more form over content and there is something very French about that. N’est-ce pas?
Salted Butter Breakups
(from Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” )
This is what you will need:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt (use a bit more if using sel de fluer or sel gris)
- 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
- 3-5 tablespoons cold water
- 1 egg yolk, for the glaze
This is how you make it:
- Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal—you’ll have both big pea-size pieces and small flakes.
- With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball.
- When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.
- Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square, and pat it down to flatten it a bit.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.)
- When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it’s very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it.
- Put the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it into a rectangle that’s about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 x 11 inches; accuracy and neatness doesn't count for a lot here.
- Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet.
- Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with an egg glaze.
- Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern.
- Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden.
- It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center — the perfect break-up is crisp on the outside and still tender within.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.
Not all salts are created equal. If you use sel gris you might consider upping the amount called for in the recipe. I ended up using a full 50% more than the recipe calls for and it was perfect. Some was sprinkled over the top since that is quite trendy these days.