Ah, a week in rural Vermont with no technology, no TV, just corn, tomatoes, green beans, glorious weather, reports from vigilant neighbors that our basement had not flooded again, and loads of butter and flour.
This is a giant cookie that is rolled out, cross-hatched on top with the tines of a fork (fun!), then baked whole. To serve, you simply break it apart at the table. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's new "Around My French Table," which comes out in October. I'm baking from an advance copy. (The President isn't the only one who gets early copies of books.) I've made her clafoutis a couple of times this summer and her delicious Breton galette, a buttery, salty shortbread you can top with lemon curd or serve with fruit.
Dorie calls this cookie "salted butter break-ups." It's a specialty of the Poitou region in western France, known for its butter. You use unsalted butter and sea salt (Poitou locals use a large, coarse gray salt, she writes).
It couldn't be simpler. I made it twice. Devoured the first batch with guests and made another to tuck into the freezer and take home.
Salted butter break-ups
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3 to 5 tablespoons cold water
1 egg yolk (for the glaze)
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to mix them. Drop in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-sized and small flakes. With the machine running, add the cold water gradually, just until the dough almost forms a balls. It should be malleable.
2. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of foil set on the counter. Shape it into a square and pat it down to flatten it. Fold over the remaining foil and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper that fits a baking sheet.
4. Place the dough on the parchment. Cover with plastic wrap and roll the dough into a rectangle (or whatever shape you get) that is 1/4-inch thick all over. Peel off the plastic wrap.
5. Brush the dough with egg yolk. With the back of a fork, mark lines going in one direction, then in the other to form a crosshatch pattern.
6. Bake the cookie for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown with a little spring when pressed in the center. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Let guests break up the cookie or serve it in pieces. Adapted from "Around My French Table"
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