This week's bake was massively helped by a lack of photo in The Baking Bible. Once upon a time, I would never make a recipe if it wasn't accompanied by a photo of the finished article... How would I know what good was? I am not sure if it is an age thing, or an experience thing or what kind of thing it is, but now I find it kind of liberating not to have a photo of the finished article. If it tastes good, then it must be alright.
This week I tried extra hard to follow the recipe. I even toasted then ground sliced (but blanched) almonds. Let me tell you, that the DIY ground almonds make a massive difference. Not sure about in the final article, because these are quite coffee-ey, but that dough was definitely more aromatic than The Ischler's dough.
You will be all relieved to know that even with all my extra focus, I still managed to cock it up. Sigh. I have been pre reading the Frozen Pecan Pie on the Tube this week, hoping that repeated exposure will stick better in my sleep deprived, numbers filled brain. I keep reassuring myself that I am probably the lead contender for Rose's secret test agent for the robustness/idiot proofing of her recipes. So I can honestly tell you that if you mess it up the way I did, then it will still work out alright. Well, maybe only *alright* by the virtue that they tasted good, because I didn't have the photo to tell me if they *actually* were alright. See earlier point about baking without pictures.
This week's recipe had us using the mythical unblanched sliced almonds. I did make an effort to follow Rose's recommended substitutes and toasted blanched sliced almonds and I have to admit to being a convert. They are definitely more flavoursome than the ground almond meal I usually just lazily tip out of the bag. All in all, this is a really easy recipe - food processor, no rolling pin, no fillings, no marrying of two separate biscuits to create one.
Even more simple if you have short term memory issues and your brain reinterprets instructions you read just minutes ago and just does whatever it wants. Rose instructs that almonds, flour, salt, leavening and espresso coffee powder are processed until the almonds are ground. Then this is tipped out onto parchment and you do the sugar, butter, vanilla as a separate processing exercise. To this essentially creamed butter and sugar, you then add the parchment paper flour mix.
My short term memory duly ignored the parchment paper bit and just added the sugar and butter right on top of my flour mix. I did contemplate starting over, but figured that overprocessing the flour would strengthen the gluten and potentially result in me having a tough biscuit. I then figured that given that these were "crisps" it would be very difficult to determine if they were tough crisps. I think it helped that I used bleached flour instead of the directed Unbleached flour. So I guess this is a further proof that two wrongs do make a right. Overall I think I score a D for attention to detail for this bake. As well as an automatic fail for submitting over a week after the due date.
So, after processing it all, I ended up with quite a soft dough. There were no traces of butter in mine - apparently butter streaks do not equal flakiness like in pastry, but instead equal holes in your biscuit. In the recipe instruction, Rose details a paragraph instructing how to roll the teaspoon (10 grams) sized balls and how far apart to place them and how much to flatten them. I really wish my short term memory had erased that. I think, after seeing how they actually baked, I could have saved a bit of time and faff by just rolling them into balls, with no flattening. But maybe you can only do that if you use my method. Perhaps I should copy right that method? I estimate it would save about 10 minutes of faff and a piece of parchment paper, but then I wouldn't have got to use my Pastry Wands. I love those Pastry Wands. A lot. They really warm that teeny tiny part of me that is a perfectionist (it really is a teeny tiny part - most of me is pretty slap dash).
For the baking, the cookies did rise up quite nicely but then dropped to their finished state quite close to the end of baking (dropping even more quickly if I poked them too early).
The verdict? Crisp, fragile, ethereal coffee imbued air - that was Rose's sales pitch. I have to agree with her. They were definitely crisp and fragile. I discovered how fragile when the two little boys decided that coffee imbued air was not to their taste. A bazillion crumbs is what they became when those cookies hit the floor at almost the same moment. The upside of coffee imbued air is that these cookies hung around for a good two weeks or so (I made a double batch because my blanched sliced almonds came in a 100gram packet). I didn't opt for the dusting of espresso powder. Well, I did, but then I stopped after the first sample - too much coffee for my tastebuds - I had to grind my own granules and the coffee was quite bitter.
There was a slight bitter aftertaste to these which I attribute to the espresso coffee powder - I quite liked that. I did wonder if there was a slight aftertaste from the baking powder - 1/2 tablespoon (1 tablespoon in my mix), but my palate is not educated enough. They certainly didn't give me the furry mouth of over baking powdered scones.. Also, am I the only person who doesn't have a half tablespoon measure? Another reason why I opted to bake a double batch.
If I were to make cookies regularly then these would be high on the rota. And I particularly like in this Baking Bible that some of the recipes are ones that have been passed on to Rose by her friends, and colleagues. There is something about the sharing of baking recipes and tips that fills me with warm fuzzy feelings. And eating this cookie whilst reading how it ended up in my hand reinforced that warm fuzzy feeling. Is there such a thing as a baking romantic?
Next week (well actually, last week! Frozen Pecan Tart). I will be finalising that post whilst on the plane to Brisbane. 24 hours on plane without spouse or children should result in me being actually able to finish a post...