Sweet and Savory Butter Cookies

They’re kind of salty, kind of sweet, buttery and soft, with golden, crunchy bottoms. Elegant in taste and look. A very versatile recipe that allows you to experiment with any flavoring you like.

Here are some I made in 2016:

20160115_090634.jpg The black specks are crushed tea leaves. I mortar-and-pestle’d some French tea leaves (Imperial Wedding tea from Mariage Frères) and added to the dough to make them fragrant. Try this with any of your favorite tea leaves. 

20160113_205333.jpgThis is when I used matcha powder. Wonderful color and you get a whiff of the green tea aroma with every bite.

Ingredients:

100g cold, straight-out-of-the-fridge butter, cubed (Regular salted butter)

60g Icing sugar (try 80g if you want more sweet than salty)

10g milk, cold

40g almond powder (ground almonds)

120g pastry flour

5g flavoring powder (cocoa, matcha, crushed tea leaves, etc.) – If not using a powder, substitute with pastry flour

Equipment:

Small blender- If you don’t have a blender, you can use a potato masher or your hands to break up the butter and mix the ingredients together, but it will get messy and you’ll have to work quickly.

Steps:

  1. There’s an order to how I put the ingredients into the blender bowl, so that the dough comes together quickly. I put in half the flour first, then the cubes of butter, then the other half of the flour, powder (if using),  icing sugar and almond powder. The milk will be added later.
  2. Blend until the butter has become smaller chunks coated with the dry stuff. Shake once in a while to move everything around.
  3. Stop the blender, and pour in the milk. Blend again.
  4. Shake out the dough from the blender container. It will look something like this. I didn’t put in any flavoring powders this time, so this is the color you get if you use 125g pastry flour. If you added 5g cocoa powder, your dough would be brown. 20170130_202752.jpg
  5. Unlike other cookie doughs, you actually need to knead this dough. Bring the dough together by compressing the scattered bits into each other.20170130_202811.jpg
  6. Once a ball is formed, start using your palm to push out the dough like you’re making skid marks. Doing this will also take care of any chunks of butter that the blender didn’t get to break down.20170130_202824.jpg
  7. Repeat until dough has become soft and malleable. Do not knead more than necessary, otherwise you will activate the gluten too much and the cookie will become tough. Stop when it looks something like the below.20170130_202905.jpg
  8. Form into a ball and shape into a nice log.20170130_203127.jpg
  9. Wrap with plastic wrap.20170130_203347.jpg
  10. Fold in the ends of the wrap so that the dough doesn’t dry out on the ends.20170130_203445.jpg
  11. Put the dough in the freezer for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 345F while you wait for the dough to harden. I turn my oven on at the 25th-minute mark, and then it’s preheated by the time I am ready to put the dough in the oven.
  12. Take out the dough and cut into thick pieces. I cut mine into exactly 12 pieces. Put on cookie sheet/pan.20170130_212554.jpg
  13. Place in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes, or until edges of the bottoms are golden. These don’t change color on the top, so always look at the color of the bottoms. Here’s how mine turned out.20170130_214502.jpg
  14. They’re very soft when they’re right out of the oven. Let them cool and harden on the pan.
  15. When they’re just lukewarm to touch, carefully use a spatula to move the cookies on to a cooling rack and let cool entirely. They taste the best when they’re at room temperature.

These cookies are so versatile, because you can add any ingredients to them to transform their color and fragrance. They’re savory, buttery, crumbly and they melt in your mouth. Great with coffee or tea.

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls. No other words are needed.

Ingredients (Bread):

1.5 tsp yeast

1C warm milk (Not hot. Warm)

1/2C white sugar

1/3C butter, cubed, room temp

0.5 tsp salt

2 large eggs, room temp

4C all-purpose white flour (if you have bread flour, that’s even better)

Ingredients (Cinnamon filling):

1C brown sugar

1.5 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/3C butter, room temp

  1. Turn on the breadmaking machine. I make the dough with a breadmaking machine, because I like my arms and I don’t like them falling off my body. I speak from experience because I have made the dough before by kneading entirely with my hands. If you don’t have a breadmaker…just go buy cinnamon rolls from a good bakery.
  2. Put all the liquids in the bread maker (warm milk and eggs), then pour half of the flour on top. Put the salt in, and pour the rest of the flour on top. I’m burying the salt under a layer of flour because salt kills yeast. I put the cubed butter to one side on top of all the flour, and the sugar and yeast I put together on the other side. Sugar and yeast are best friends. Sugar is food for yeast.
  3. Set the breadmaker onto the “dough” setting and let it do all the hard work. See the size of the dough after the first 20 minutes, and remember the image of the dough in your head. You will take it out of the breadmaker when it rises to at least the double the size you saw.
  4.  When the dough has doubled from its original dough size (for me, it took 2 hours from when the machine started to operate), turn the oven on to 375F, as it will take time to preheat.
  5. Wash your hands, because we’ll start working with them. Take the dough out of the breadmaker onto a clean, floured work surface and the real fun begins.20170128_125421.jpg
  6. Knead and take all the air out. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too runny. I asked a family member to take this photo, and of course, he took it at an angle where my arm covers most of the dough… But yes, knead the dough. If you don’t know how to knead, there are tons of videos on YouTube featuring actual professional bakers. I’m wondering if anyone is even reading this, since there are trained chefs and bakers with videos on how to make everything, including cinnamon rolls. I tell myself that this is for my self-fulfillment and timeless recipe compilation, and move on from this mini-existential crisis.20170128_125534.jpg
  7. Shape into a ball and cover with plastic food cover or clean wet cloth to prevent drying. Let the dough rest 15 minutes. It will need to relax before you can shape it easily.
  8. After it’s done resting, pick up the ball and evenly flour the work surface. Put the ball back and start flattening the ball with your hands, stretching it out. Use the rolling pin to spread the dough evenly into a big rectangle.20170128_131746.jpg
  9. Mix up the cinnamon filling mixture in a bowl with a spoon. Spoon the paste and spread onto the dough. K, I know what this looks like, but don’t say it. I already know. Yes, it looks like smeared, um, something.20170128_132156.jpg
  10. Roll like sushi and cut into, well, rolls. Spread the rolls on a good-quality baking pan. I really don’t care what they look like, because it’s going to taste amazing no matter what. I cut mine all rustic and weird because I’m not a trained chef (sound familiar? heh???) or baker, and I’m ok with that.20170128_132845.jpg
  11.  Bake for 20 minutes. Check, and bake longer, if needed. I usually turn the tray around in the oven at the 15th minute mark for a more even bake on all sides. I take mine out when the rolls all look golden.
  12. I let it cool a bit in the pan, and take it out roll by roll. Here is one on a plate.20170128_141002.jpg
  13. It tastes like a chewy cloud. Sweet, chewy cloud that melts in your mouth. Here’s a picture to try and show you the wonderful texture.20170128_141907.jpg
  14. I was really happy so I started making a latte, even though I can’t even drink coffee. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I got a family member to volunteer to drink it.20170128_140335.jpg20170128_140342.jpg20170128_140519.jpg

Ah, such a neighborhood bakery cafe moment, in the comfort of my own home. The cinnamon rolls tasted better than any cinnamon roll I had from any bakery.20170128_140846.jpg

 

Roll Cake

I’m making Asian style roll cake. Thin sheet, lots of whipped cream. Yum.

You can skim arm day for your  dominant hand when you make this, because there’s a lot of arm action.

Ingredients for the sheet:

4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated

40g fine sugar (for egg whites)

40 g sugar (for yolks)

40g cake flour

Optional: 1 Tbsp powder of choice (matcha, cocoa, etc.)

Ingredients for whipped cream:

Whipping cream

Icing sugar

Optional: Pinch of flavoring powder (matcha, cocoa, etc.)

Steps:

  1. First, separate the 4 eggs into yolks and whites into two bowls. Put the yolks in a bigger bowl. Eggs are easier to separate when they’re cold, so you can separate into two bowls right out of the fridge and leave them covered. Give them a few hours to warm up to room-temperature.
  2. When eggs are room-temp, measure out the dry ingredients.
    • When I say “fine sugar” in the ingredients section, I don’t mean the quality of the sugar, I mean the texture. I like to put the sugar that I will use for the egg whites in an electric grinder and blitz to a fine powder. You can skip this part and just use the white sugar as-is.
  3. Mix and aerate the cake flour and 1Tbsp powder by sifting them together at least 3 times. If not using any flavoring powder, just substitute the 1 Tbsp powder with cake flour.
  4. Line a long rectangular oven tray with parchment paper. Make snips in the corners of the paper, and fold the cut parts to cleanly cover the corners of the tray.
  5. We’ll whip the whites. Before whipping, it looks pale and gross like the below.20170128_173905.jpg
  6. After whipping until your arm starts to hurt from holding the mixer, it looks like this, white and glossy. You should be getting firm peaks. 20170128_175013.jpg
  7. You can use the mixers you used for the whites to whip the egg yolks and sugar together.  You cannot do this the other way. If you whipped egg yolks first, you must clean the mixer attachments thoroughly and make sure they’re completely dry before touching the egg whites with them. Otherwise, the fat from the yolks will weigh down the whites, and you will fail before you start.20170128_175022.jpg
  8. Whipppppp20170128_175334.jpg
  9. Stop when the color is pastel yellow. I like to turn the oven on at 350F at this point as it will take time to preheat.20170128_175603.jpg
  10. Pour in the sifted cake flour + 1 Tbsp powder.20170128_175704.jpg
  11. Fold. 20170128_175716.jpg
  12. It will feel tacky and heavy. That’s normal. Keep folding.20170128_175830.jpg
  13. Now, get approx. 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and put it in the yolk mixture.20170128_175847.jpg
  14. Mix. You don’t have to fold at this stage, but I like to fold. We’re introducing the light whites into the yolk mixture. The batter will feel lighter, and turn a lighter shade of color.20170128_175929.jpg
  15. When the first batch of whites is well-incorporated, do the same with another 1/3.20170128_180050.jpg
  16. Fold. Do the same for the last 1/3 of the whites. In the last stage, I like to fold at least 70 times. Your arm and hands will feel tired.In the end, you should end up with something like the below. 20170128_180503.jpg
  17. Pour out on to the parchment-paper covered pan. Level the surface evenly with a spatula. Put into the preheated oven.20170128_180814.jpg
  18. Bake for 12 minutes (depends on oven) and check. After the 12th minute mark, I like to turn the pan around and bake an additional 4 minutes, for more evenly baked sides. It’s important to not overbake the sheet, as it is thin and will crack as you try to roll it, if it’s too dry.
  19. When it’s done, take out of the oven and bang onto a table to prevent shrinkage of the sheet.20170128_182555.jpg
  20. Take the sheet out of the pan, parchment paper and all, and let cool on a cooling rack.
  21. The sheet will cool quickly as it is so thin. We can move straight onto whipping the cream. You should use 35% whipping cream.20170128_183523.jpg
  22. Whip, and add icing sugar gradually as you go. You can use regular white sugar, but icing sugar will stabilize the cream as it’s already got cornstarch in it.
    • I don’t have any measurements for the cream or sugar because I just measure with my eyes, and I have no clue how much they are in mL or g. I taste and flavor as I go, and I think that’s the best way.
  23. Oops, I forgot to add instant coffee granules early on, so I just added them later. I like coffee-flavored whipped cream. The white powder is the icing sugar. I put in batches at a time and stop when I think I put in enough.20170128_184018.jpg
  24. Whip until it gets thick and heavy….like whipped cream. Do not overwhip, as it will turn into butter. I stopped when it looked like the below.20170128_184456.jpg
  25. The sheet should be cool to the touch by now. Flip cake-side first onto the cooling rack, and start peeling off the parchment paper carefully.20170128_184637.jpg20170128_184703.jpg
  26. After you’ve peeled off the paper, put the cake sheet back onto the paper.20170128_184823.jpg
  27. Load with cream. Spread evenly. Spread a little less on the ends so they will roll better.20170128_185230.jpg
  28. Roll like you would a sushi roll. Roll carefully. If your sheet cracks, it’s either your sheet is too dry or you put too much strength into it. Do not use the Force at a time like this.20170128_185457.jpg
  29. Wrap with the parchment paper and put in a plastic bag to prevent drying. Store in a fridge for at least a few hours for the shape to set. These taste the best the next day.
  30. Cut with a proper serrated bread knife for a quick and clean cut. Serve.

I loaded mine with a ton of whipped cream and rolled just so that the ends of the sheet meet, like I’ve seen in Japanese bakeries. If you put less cream on the sheet, you can roll it so that it’s all swirly like a cinnamon roll.

20170128_202722.jpg   A cut piece.

Below is what I made last year with this recipe.

20151221_163847.jpg

A matcha one I made last year.

20160205_072604.jpg

A tea-leaf flavored sheet, with tangerine pieces inside.

20160217_075007.jpg

The possibilities are endless!