You know how sometimes when you’re “surfing” the web, you come across things that you weren’t actually looking for? Well, this happened to me the other day when I stumbled upon Flo Braker’s Pain d’Amande cookie recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog.
The cookie is described as a traditional Belgian cookie with a unique texture, appearance and taste, that is known as almond bread (pain d’amande).
I have several of Flo’s books, but had never made, or even noticed this recipe. It really sounded interesting and a bit unusual in technique, so I decided to give it a try, especially since I had all of the ingredients.
The ingredients included cubed unsalted butter, coarse crystal golden sugar (I used Demerara sugar), cinnamon, water, all purpose flour, baking soda and sliced almonds. Because the recipe included metric weights for the ingredients – I decided to weigh the sugar, flour and almonds.
David Lebovitz cautions that the mixture should not be allowed to boil, and that some of the sugar will not be dissolved. The reason for this is that large sugar crystals produce a distinctive crunch to the cookie. Therefore, as soon as the butter was melted, I removed the pan from the heat.
The next day, I removed the dough from the pan, peeled away the plastic wrap, and placed it on a cutting board lined with waxed paper. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, I sliced the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, and placed the cut cookies on a parchment lined baking pan. Half way through, it occurred to me that I should have trimmed the sides of the “loaf” before cutting the cookies. The reason for this is that I had to trim each individual cookie, and also, the sides were not perfectly straight!
I baked the cookies at 325° F for 12 minutes, removed the pan from the oven, turned the cookies over, and returned the pan to the oven for another 12 minutes (the recipe indicates 10 to 15 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the cookie). After the 12 additional minutes, I transferred the golden brown cookies to a cooling rack.
The recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog indicated that the recipe made 80 to 90 cookies. I must not have cut them as thin as I should because I only got 66 (5½ dozen) cookies. I really don’t see how they could have been cut any thinner. Be that as it may, once cooled, the cookies were delicate and deliciously crispy. Yum!
[print_this]Flo Braker’s Pain d’Amande Cookie Recipe (from recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog)
8 tablespoons (115g or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
1⅓ cups (300g or 10.5 ounces) coarse crystal golden sugar (see Note)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅓ cup (80ml) water
2⅓ cups (325g or 11.5 ounces) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (85g or 3 ounces) sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat with the sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir until the butter just melts but don’t allow to boil: most of the sugar should not be dissolved.
Remove from heat and stir in the flour, baking soda, and almonds until well mixed.
Line a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan so the top is smooth. Chill until firm.
Preheat the oven to 325º (160ºC.)
Remove the dough from the loaf pan. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise, as thin as possible, into rectangles. If you can get them as thin as a coin, all the better. The thinner they are, the more delicate and crisp they’ll be.
Space the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are crisp and deep golden-brown on top. The baking times depend on how thin you cut the cookies.
Cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Storage: Once baked, the cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to three days. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped. Yield: 5½ to 6 dozen cookies.[/print_this]