Bien Cuit Shortbread

I have wanted to make these cookies for quite a while but they require advance planning!

According to Food 52, this is the “World’s Best Shortbread” and is no longer available for purchase from the original source, Bien Cuit in Brooklyn. Fortunately, they were able to get the recipe and share it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I modified the method as well as the baking time for a convection oven. They were incredibly flaky and minimally sweet.

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 302 grams unsalted butter (about 22.5 tablespoons)
  • 93 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3.5 grams kosher salt (scant teaspoon)
  • 302 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 T granulated or raw sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Cut the cold butter into cubes and reserve at room temperature to temper slightly.
  2. Line a 13×9-inch rimmed baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and flour for a few seconds to combine.
  4. Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until a smooth dough is formed and butter is fully incorporated. At first, the dough will look extremely flaky and dry; let it keep mixing and it will eventually come together into a dough.
  5. Distribute the dough in the baking sheet and spread it evenly to the corners. I covered the dough with plastic wrap, removed it from the pan using the parchment paper, and rolled it 3/8-inch thick with a rolling pin. After placing it back in the pan, I trimmed the edges and used the excess dough to redistribute it to the empty areas. I re-rolled the dough 3/8-inch thick.
  6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. The next day, heat the oven to 300°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Dock the dough every inch or so with a fork.
  9. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown, 55-75 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. (I baked mine for 55 minutes on convection but may consider allowing them to brown further next time!)
  10. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with sugar and let cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer the shortbread onto a cutting board, trim the edges, if desired. Slice into 3-inch x 1-inch slices.
  12. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Belgian Spice Cookies (Speculoos)

I am mildly obsessed with Biscoff cookies. They are my absolute favorite store-bought cookies (Trader Joe’s Maple Leaf Cookies are a close second…) When my friend shared this version from America’s Test Kitchen, I knew that I had to include them in my Christmas cookie assortment this year. I doubled the recipe. 😉

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via wskg.org.  I rolled out the dough and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. I also froze the cut dough prior to baking to help it maintain its cut shape. I weighed the flour and sugar and used freshly ground spices.

These cookies have the ultimate crispy texture. My husband thought that they had more cardamom than the store-bought version, possibly because I used freshly ground cardamom, but I thought that they were perfect. 🙂 Yum!

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) turbinado sugar (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1 large egg
  1. Separately, grind cloves and cardamom in a spice grinder.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.
  3. Using pencil and ruler, draw 10 by 12-inch rectangle in center of each of 2 large sheets of parchment paper, crisscrossing lines at corners. (Use crisscrosses to help line up top and bottom sheets as dough is rolled.)
  4. Process sugar in food processor for 30 seconds (some grains will be smaller than granulated sugar; others will be larger).
  5. Add butter and process until uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add egg and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  8. Transfer dough to bowl and knead gently with spatula until uniform and smooth, about 10 seconds.
  9. Place 1 piece of parchment on counter with pencil side facing down (you should be able to see rectangle through paper).
  10. Place dough in center of marked rectangle and press into 6 by 9-inch rectangle. Place second sheet of parchment over dough, with pencil side facing up, so dough is in center of marked rectangle. Using pencil marks as guide, use rolling pin and bench scraper to shape dough into 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even thickness, about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. (If the dough spreads beyond the rectangle, trim it and use the scraps to fill in the corners; then, replace the parchment and continue to roll.)
  11. Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1 1/2 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (Rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)(I refrigerated it overnight.)
  13. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lowermiddle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees, preferably on convection.
  14. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment. Transfer chilled dough to counter. Gently peel off top layer of parchment from dough.
  15. Using fluted pastry wheel (or sharp knife or pizza cutter) and ruler, trim off rounded edges of dough that extend over marked edges of 10 by 12-inch rectangle.
  16. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips about 1¼ inches wide. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches long.
  17. Freeze cut dough until firm, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  18. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.
  19. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned, 30 to 32 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  20. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Note: If you can’t find Sugar in the Raw, use 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 ounces) of packed light brown sugar and skip the sugar grinding step.

* Do not use cookie molds or an embossed rolling pin for the speculoos; they will not hold decorations.*

Overnight Golden Sourdough Waffles

I made these super light and slightly tangy waffles for my husband’s birthday breakfast. They were absolutely amazing topped with fresh berries and sliced bananas and drizzled with pure maple syrup.

The wonderful recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I weighed the ingredients and incorporated whole wheat flour into the batter. According to the original recipe, these waffles also freeze incredibly well. Perfect.

Yield: about 10 waffles

  • 460g (2 cups) buttermilk
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 100g (1/2 cup, stirred down) ripe sourdough starter
  • 125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 113 g (1 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 7g (1 1/2 teaspoons) raw sugar
  • 110g (1/2 cup) water, if needed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 5g (1 teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda, sifted

The night before:

  1. Add buttermilk and the melted and cooled butter to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add your ripe sourdough starter and mix thoroughly (use a whisk and your hands if needed).
  3. Sprinkle the sugar on top and whisk in your flour, a little at a time, until incorporated.
  4. If necessary, use some of the 110g (1/2 cup) reserved water to break up the batter until it resembles a traditional pancake batter. If you have a 100% hydration starter, you probably won’t need to add any water, but if your flour is extra “thirsty” or you have a stiff starter it might be necessary. (I didn’t add any water.)
  5. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning:

  1. Warm your whole eggs to room temperature by letting them sit for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water.
  2. Sift the baking soda and salt onto the top of the batter.
  3. Crack the eggs and place the whites in one clean bowl and the yolks in another.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
  5. Lightly scramble up the egg yolks in the second bowl.
  6. Pour the yolks into the batter and gently stir through.
  7. Then, using a spatula, fold the eggs whites into the mixture until just incorporated (and no more).
  8. Cook in your smoking hot waffle iron until done to your liking. (I cook mine for 5 minutes.)

Note: If you want to increase the amount of sourness you could hold back some of the sugar in the mix, let the batter ferment longer, or ferment the same time but at a slightly warmer temperature.

Perfect Apple Pie

This pie is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s updated Perfect Apple Pie to her “Even More Perfect Apple Pie.” I had to try it because the filling is loaded with an enormous amount of apples. Yum.

She introduced me to a new technique which I was very surprised to have never seen before or thought of myself! She covers the pie with a foil dome to prevent the crust from over-browning. Absolute genius.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. The updated pie recipe modifies the baking temperature and cooking time, increases volume of apples (with a link on how to choose pie apples), decreases the thickness of the apple slices, omits the lemon juice and zest, and uses tapioca as the thickener.

The incredible mound of apple filling keeps the finished pie from becoming concave after baking. Beautiful and delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used a combination of several types of apples)
  • 3 T tapioca flour or starch (I used minute tapioca)

For the Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
  • coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional

To Serve:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional

Make the Filling:

  1. Combine sugars, salt, and spices in your absolutely largest bowl.
  2. Peel, halve, and core your apples and cut them into thin (scant 1/4-inch) slices, adding them right to the big bowl.
  3. Toss to coat the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.

Make the Crust:

  1. Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
  2. In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
  4. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
  5. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
  6. Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
  7. Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  8. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
  9. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
  10. Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
  11. With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
  12. For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a 10-piece lattice top.)

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

To Make the Pie:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Stir tapioca starch into the apple pie filling.
  3. Pour filling into prepared bottom crust and use your hands to pack and heap those softened apples as mounded as you can get them, then add a few more.
  4. Pour any juices that have accumulated carefully over apples; do not leave any behind.
  5. Either place your second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips to lattice the top.
  6. Trim the top crust or lattice strips to the edge of the pie dish. Fold the overhang from the lower crust over to form a thick rim, and crimp it together with your fingers or a fork to seal it.
  7. Brush top crust with egg, then sprinkle with sugar if desired. If your top crust is in one piece, cut a few vents in it with a sharp knife.
  8. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the large baking sheet for easier cleanup, then transfer your prepared pie onto it.
  9. Bake for 75 minutes, turning once or twice for even color. If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further. The pie is done when juices are bubbling visibly through the vents or lattice, or when the internal temperature reads 195°F. A tester inserted into the pie shouldn’t hit any overtly crunchy apple pieces. (I added an additional 10 minutes to the baking time t achieve the 195°F internal temperature.)

To Serve: Cool pie for at least one hour at room temperature before cutting into it. However, your filling will not fully thicken until it has fully cooled, ideally in the fridge for a couple hours. You can rewarm slices as you serve them, if desired. Leftovers keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and in the fridge for 1 week. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones

These just might be the best scones I’ve ever made. Maybe I just forgot how much I love scones because I don’t have them very often. Maybe it’s because I made them with my HUGE CSA blueberries. These were really really delicious. We ate them warm from the oven with fresh blueberries, nectarines & pluots on the side.

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen’s Very Blueberry Scones. Fabulous!

Yield: 8 scones

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons raw (turbinado) or light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk, whole is best here
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon raw (tubinado) or other coarse sugar for finishing

  1. Heat oven to 400°F convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, zest, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add cold butter and work into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas with either your fingertips or a pastry blender.
  4. Stir in blueberries, then milk, mixing only until large clumps form. Use your hands to reach inside the bowl and gently (so gently) combine the mixture into one mass. The more you knead, the wetter the dough will get as the blueberries break up, so work quickly and knead only a few times. (I mixed it just until it came together- I think it keeps the scones more tender.)
  5. Transfer dough to a well-floured counter and pat into a roughly 1-inch tall disc. Cut into 8 wedges, do not fret if the blueberries are now making a mess of the dough; it will all work out in the oven.
  6. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart. Brush the tops of each with egg, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until scones are golden brown on top. Serve warm. I find most scones to be best the first day, but they can be eaten on day two, gently rewarmed in the oven before eating.

Note: If freezing: Scones can be frozen unbaked. Hold any egg wash until ready to bake. Simply spread the wedges on a baking sheet and chill until frozen solid and will no longer stick to each other, and pack tightly into a freezer bag. You can bake them right from the freezer; you’ll only need 2 to 4 minutes extra baking time.

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