Welcome to the Alpha Bakers bake-a-long, an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared, but I will post my commentary followed by a full photo tutorial.
How do they taste - The raw dough is particularly tasty. The finished cookies are good, but will vary in lemon intensity depending on what you use to fill them. Lemon curd obviously will impart the most intense lemon flavor; lemon buttercream, a little less so. Raspberry jam takes away from the overall lemon quality, but raspberry and lemon compliment one another beautifully.
Note: these cookies are best eaten the day they are made. They turn to little bricks quickly, even when stored in an airtight container.
How do they look - Beautiful and somewhat feminine. I think these cookies would be perfect served at a ladies tea.
Level of difficulty - Fairly easy. I add some tips of my own that are not included in the book, but they really help produce professional looking cookies.
Were the directions clear - Yes, but I'm starting to wonder if Rose owns stock in plastic wrap. Lol.
What would I do differently next time - Flavor-wise, they're perfect, but I might try changing up the shape of the cutouts next time.
Next up - BlueRhu Pie, May 4, 2015. I really dislike rhubarb so I doubt I'll be making that recipe, however, I may make one of the recipes I missed instead.
Okay, here's my photo tutorial.
Start by weighing granulated sugar. Weighing is the most accurate way to measure ingredients.
Zest some lemon. I store used lemon shells in the freezer - they are so handy to have on hand, and you can zest them right from the frozen state.
Process the sugar and lemon zest together in a food processor.
Love the color!
Add the butter.
The mixture will start to turn creamy. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl if needed.
dd vanilla and egg. Be sure to use the very best vanilla you can.... it makes a huge difference that you can taste!
This is what the mixture should look like just before the flour is added.
Weigh the flour. Again, weighing is the most accurate way to measure. This is especially true when measuring flour, which can compress quite a lot.
When I teach cooking classes, I like to have students each measure a cup of flour, then we weigh them (in grams). The difference between each cup of flour is dramatic. So the next time your muffins or cookies turn out like little bricks, you'll know why.
Once the flour is added, pulse the mixture a few times to mix.
This is what it should look like - crumbly, but it will hold together when compressed.
Chill the dough before rolling - this is an important step. It allows the flour to evenly absorb the moisture from the other ingredients.
Note: Rose suggests dividing the dough into 3 equal portions, each wrapped in plastic wrap. I find that unnecessary. All the dough easily fits in a quart-size zipper bag. When it's time to roll, I just break off a piece of dough large enough to work with and zip the leftovers back in the bag. Clean, simple, easy.
Since I'll be rolling the cookie dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch, I pulled out my handy dandy Pastry Wands.
It's a set of 8 wands, 2 of each size ranging from 1/16 to 1 /4-inch thick. I love them!
Rather than roll my cookie dough on a floured surface (which I find very messy), I prefer to roll between two pieces of wax paper. This also makes it so the scraps don't absorb excess flour, which can make them tough or dry.
I've been having a little trouble with my camera and it seems I've lost a few pics so I can't show you how I dipped my cutters in flour and knocked off the excess before each cut, but I'm sure you can figure out what I mean.
I place my cutouts on a sheet pan and toss them in the fridge or freezer to firm up before transferring them to a sheet pan to bake. Doing this will help maintain their shape. Nothing more frustrating that cutting out a pretty cookie and then you try to move it and it gets all 'bent out of shape' - Lol. This is my technique for all cutout cookies.
See how chilling the dough for 5-10 minutes in the freezer, or 15-20 minutes in the fridge firms it up, making it really easy to move without distorting the cutouts.
And now I can gather all the scraps to re-roll them without having to worry about a bunch of excess flour being mixed in.
The wax paper can be reused. If there's any residual cookie dough left it can easily be 'erased' with a scrap of raw dough.
See - good as new and ready for the next batch.
Allow the baked cookies to cool completely before filling with jam, buttercream, or lemon curd.
IMPORTANT - I forgot to mention that I always chill my cutouts for a few minutes before baking. I think it helps to keep them from spreading too much during the baking process.
I had a jar of lemon curd in the pantry for a really long time so I thought I'd use it to fill these cookies, but it sat in my pantry for so long that went bad so I filled my cookies with seedless raspberry jam instead. I have some vanilla buttercream in the fridge that I will try tomorrow, and I might (big might) make a batch of lemon curd - will report back later.
Cute cookies, no?
Update: I filled some with leftover vanilla buttercream I had leftover from this project. We liked them better chilled than at room temperature because chilled buttercream doesn't ooze out of the cookies when bitten, but overall, we liked the raspberry jam filled version the best.
Darn... wish I would have had some of my Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Jelly to fill these cookies. That would have been perfect. Maybe next time.
links for more alpha baker photo tutorials
- Nov 19, 2015 The Hazelnut Praline Cookies that Never Were
- Sep 1, 2015 TBB - Flaky Cream Cheese Scones
- Aug 23, 2015 TBB - Woody's Black and White Brownies
- Jul 1, 2015 TBB - Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Jun 23, 2015 Ricotta Loaf - The Bread Bible
- Jun 4, 2015 TBB - French Orange Cream Tart
- May 19, 2015 TBB - Double Chocolate Oriolos
- May 15, 2015 Touch of Grace Biscuits - The Bread Bible
- May 7, 2015 TBB - Blu-Rhu Mini Pies
- Apr 27, 2015 TBB - Lemon Jammies
- Apr 2, 2015 Pita Pizzas - The Bread Bible
- Mar 22, 2015 TBB - Luxury Oatmeal Cookies
- Mar 15, 2015 TBB - Sour Cherry Pie (Pi Day)
- Mar 9, 2015 TBB - Caramel Buns
- Mar 4, 2015 TBB - Hamantaschen (Purim)
- Feb 23, 2015 TBB - Lemon Posset Alma
- Feb 15, 2015 TBB - Chocolate Pavarotti with Wicked Good Ganache
- Feb 11, 2015 TBB - Golden Orange Panettone with Chocolate Sauce
- Feb 9, 2015 Panettone Delay
- Feb 2, 2015 TBB - Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread
- Jan 26, 2015 TBB - Gingersnaps
- Jan 19, 2015 Biga Fail
- Jan 12, 2015 TBB - Black and Blueberry Pie
- Jan 5, 2015 TBB - Chocolate Cuddle Cake