When I chose election palmiers for our November Baked Occasionally recipe, it honestly had nothing to do with the election. It’s completely coincidental that the post is debuting the day before election day and they’re called “election palmiers” and … it’s just a whole bunch of serendipity I guess.
I’ll spare everyone words on the actual election, as I know it’s all we have heard about nonstop for the last few months, the last thing I need is another place to read about candidates and issues and voting, etc, I’ll leave you to pretty much any other form of media for that. Let’s deem this a safe space, shall we? Free of election news, despite the name of these delicious cookies. Instead, let’s talk about cookies, shall we? Palmiers, to be exact. Vote Palmiers 2016, that’s a cause I can get behind!
I’ve made palmiers dozens of times, but I’ve never made them totally from scratch. Usually I just grab some puff pastry from the freezer section and go along my merry way, so I was really curious to see what went into creating them from scratch. Lucky for me, Shannon had also never made them from scratch and being the curious creatures we are, we agreed that although it was probably the best-known recipe, it was also the most exciting recipe for November.
Yes, some elbow grease is required as we are basically taking a cookie dough and then laminating it. No, not with heat and plastic, but with rolling and folding and butter. Lots of butter. I also used this recipe to try out a new gluten free flour blend, but more on that later.
So, the pros
- The homemade version is a bit crunchier, flakier, with more butter flavor than the puff pastry version and I would say they are worth the extra work.
- It is a lot more work than simply unrolling some puff pastry and going on your merry little way, BUT I still think you should try making them from scratch at least once.
- Rolling – I seriously HAAAATE rolling dough. The only thing I hate more than rolling is cutting out cookies. I have tried for many years to make cut out cookies for the holidays and usually end up with a few cookies cut out and then I just give up. Make your life easier here by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You’re welcome.
- Folding – Yeah, it gets tedious and can be difficult, a dough scraper can be helpful for getting stubborn dough off or your counter tops and to help you get that perfect fold.
I scaled back on the cayenne significantly (by about half, but maybe my cayenne is just extra spicy?) and it added just the right amount of kick at the end without making the cookies overtly spicy. If you’re worried about it at all, feel free to leave it out entirely. It does give the cookies an interesting boost of flavor, though. I also made a second batch of these with pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon (and no cayenne), which were equally as enjoyable.
- 1½ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 ounces (1 ¾ sticks/200 g) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup (125 g) raw sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt and place in the freezer. Place the butter in a separate bowl in the freezer. Finally, in a small prep bowl or measuring cup, stir together 2 tablespoons water with the lemon juice and place in the freezer.
- Allow all the items to chill in the freezer for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Remove all items from the freezer. Place the flour mixture in a food processor and pulse for 1 or 2 short bursts.
- Add about half of the cold butter chunks and pulse about 3 to 4 times in short bursts. Do not over process the mixture - the butter pieces should be visible and just slightly bigger than pea size.
- Add the remaining butter and pulse a few more times - the butter should still be visible and pronounced in the mixture.
- Drizzle in a few drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse 2 or 3 times until crumbly.
- Test the dough by pinching a bit in your fingers, the dough should just hold together. If it still crumbles apart, continue to add drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse as needed.
- *Note: you may not use all of the mixture, or you may need to add a few extra.
- Be careful not to over process the dough - it should be loose and crumbly, you aren't looking for it to form a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it just comes together. Use your hands to shape it into a rough 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle about ½ inch (12 mm) thick, with the shorter side closest to you.
- Make the first letter fold: Fold the bottom third of the dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover, just like folding a letter.
- Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you, and letter-fold the dough again.
- Rotate again and use your hands to gently shape the dough into another 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle.
- Perform the final letter fold. If, at any time, the dough starts feeling soft or the butter starts to warm, refrigerate until cool again.
- Once all three letter folds are finished, cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface.
- Using a rolling pin this time, roll the dough into an 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, with the shorter side closest to you.
- Make the first letter fold - Fold the bottom third of dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover.
- Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you and letter-fold the dough again. Rotate again, gently roll the dough back into a rough 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, and perform a final letter fold. Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Set aside.
- Place a half sheet pan sized (18 by 13 inches/46 by 33 cm) rectangle of parchment on your counter.
- Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and dust the parchment with one-third of the sugar mixture.
- Place the dough on top of the parchment and sprinkle the dough with another third of the sugar mixture.
- Roll the dough into a 12-by-15-inch (30.5-by-38-cm) rectangle about 1?8 to ¼ inch (3 to 6 mm) thick. If the dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon or two more of the sugar mixture over it. (I found that putting a layer of plastic wrap over the dough helped me out immensely here).
- Return dough to the refrigerator and chilld for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll up both of the long sides of the dough toward the center so that they meet in the exact middle.
- Brush the egg wash where the two sides of the dough meet (this will help to keep the rolls stuck together).
- Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
- When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment.
- Add a teaspoon or two of water to the parchment and use your hands to spread it around, making the parchment to be slightly damp.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut crosswise into ½-inch (12-mm) slices and place the slices on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
- Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the slices.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the cookies over with a spatula. Bake the other side of the cookies until they have spread slightly and are puffy and golden brown, about 5 more minutes.
- *Note: I flipped some and didn't flip others, because SCIENCE! See details below.
- Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.
- Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight storage container. They recommend eating the same day, but my coworkers seem to be enjoying them just fine a whole 24 - 36 hours later.
* Do yourself a favor and make rolling easier by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You'll thank me later.
* If making and baking all in one go, you will want to begin preheating the oven when you return the dough for its final chill (after shaping it into the spirals).
* Flipping the cookies: I left some cookies un-flipped for science and did not notice a huge difference in terms of flavor/texture between the flipped and un-flipped cookies, so I would deem this step as OPTIONAL. Especially if you are prone to burning yourself like yours truly.
Get the book – Baked Occasions
Check out Shannon’s post – November Baked Occasionally
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