Before I get to this month’s recipe, I thought that as we’ve been baking together for a few months, it was a good time for some reflection on the #baketogether process and protocols.
At the core, we are a laid back group who share a common love of baking, an interest in stretching our creativity, a desire to push our culinary limits, and, at the end of the day, offering up a tale or two while sharing a good recipe. My hope is that through #baketogether, bakers of all levels of ability will gather together monthly around one of my recipes to explore, create, improvise, share and learn in the process.
Whether you come to the recipe with little baking experience, in search of a killer recipe or if you are an experienced baker looking for a challenge or a change of pace, please join in and spread the #baketogether love.
A few #Baketogether reminders:
- Use my recipe as your starting point and personal (not professional) use. Twist and turn it anyway you’d like.
- Post your version & pix on your personal blog (no posting the recipe on community websites, please) by March 31st. In your post, link back to my original recipe/site. You can also link the recipe and/or directions and simply list your changes in your post. The link love is much appreciated.
- Invite your readers to join our #baketogether . There’s always room in this virtual kitchen – the more the merrier!
- Leave me a comment on my original post & don’t forget to use the linky thingy at the bottom of the post to add your entry to the round up so everyone can see what you’ve made.
- Spread the word about your post via Twitter, Facebook page (yours and mine) using the tagline #baketogether and we will all join in to share your wonderfulness with our readers, friends and followers.
- And, as always, if you have questions or need advice, please reach out to me – I’m here to help.
Ok.. back to our regularly scheduled recipe..
This month, I thought it would be fun to explore a savory recipe that packs big-time flavor, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth texture and, for added fun, employees a classic technique that we’ll be using in future #baketogethers (hint hint). Spicy Parmesan Sables is the recipe and spicy and sassy these crackers are. Made with butter, cheese, flour and cayenne for a kick, they make for a lovely hors d’oeuvre to serve with wine or cocktails and the possible twists are endless. Oh, and the technique is called “fraisage” . This simple method of smearing the just-mixed dough with the palm of your hand creates layers of butter and dough (think laminating) from the crumbly mixture which makes for a tender, flaky texture. It’s easy to do but I’ve taken a few snaps (with my left hand) to give you some visual clues – check ’em out before you dive into the recipe.
One last comment. Make sure you bake these crackers until the edges are nice and nutty brown around the edges, otherwise the flavors will be muted and the texture will be soft and sad.
How about a few suggestions for switching things up:
- Change the shape: I’ve made three-bite rectangles but any size rounds, squares or even cut- outs would work.
- Change the cheese: Swap out another cheese for the parm. You could go with a smoked cheese, a sharp cheese or a zest cheese like goat or blue. I recommend beginning with the same weight and then adjust up or down as you like.
- Add more or different flavors: Adding citrus zest or sesame oil or other herbs to the dough will change the character of the cracker to suit your tastes.
- Add texture: Chopped nuts, cornmeal or seeds like toasted sesame or poppy can add complexity as well as texture to the sables. I’d suggest you mix them into the dough during the fraisage process.
Here at #baketogether, we love all shapes and flavors equally so put on your thinking caps and start planing Spicy Parmesan Sables ~Your Way right now. Let me know when you pop the cork and I’ll be right over. As always, if you need further guidance or inspiration, give me a holler!
I thought a few photos of the “fraisage” might be helpful.
Dump the dough on the (un-floured) counter. The crumbles will be small and moist.
Using a bench scraper, fold the dough together (it will be rough and crumbly) and turn it about 90 degrees and give it one or..
Shape the dough into a 7 1/4-inch long and 2 1/4 -inch wide rectangle using the bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours …
Spicy Parmesan Sables
Makes 29 sables.
- 1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon (or more to taste) ground cayenne pepper
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 7 slices, well chilled
- 2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons very cold water
- Kosher salt for sprinkling (optional)
To make the dough:
1. Put the flour, cheese, salt and cayenne in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine. Drizzle the water evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.
2. Dump the moist crumbs onto the unfloured counter and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the crumbs away from you until they start to come together in a cohesive dough. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Using a bench scraper, gather the dough together and turn it about 45 degrees and give it one or two more smears. Gather the dough together and shape the dough into a 7 1/4-inch long and 2 1/4 -inch wide rectangle using the bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours, or up to 2 days.
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/4-inch slices and arrange about 1 inch apart (they don’t spread much at all) on the prepared sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, until nutty brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. If you like, sprinkle the crackers with a little kosher salt just as the baking sheets come out of the oven. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
4. The dough can be shaped and frozen for up to a month and then thawed for about an hour on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight. Likewise, tuck the baked and cooled sables in a heavy duty zip top bag and stash them in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature and warm them for a few minutes at 325°F to refresh the flavors.
And from Barbara (DrBarb): My mother makes these little crackers she calls cheese crispettes that she adapted from the Temple Sinai (New Orleans)1960’s cookbook. I decided to use the same flavor profile–cheddar, cayenne; I used smoked paprika and panko instead of rice krispies. (Yes, rice krispies.)