breton butter biscuits
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Brittany certainly has a few things going for it. Oysters. Mont Saint Michel. That funny half-ruined lighthouse in the middle of the sea which is one of the most photographed landmarks in Europe. The tide. Breton cake. And butter.
It’s supposed to be the best in the world. Beurre de baratte is hand churned in a traditional fashion, made from slightly more sour cream than the regular stuff, delivered by Brittany milk cows – clearly happy animals. I never used to think there was much difference between one brand of butter and another until a friend passionate about organic, unprocessed and natural foods pointed me in the direction of unpasteurised butter – made no other place than in Brittany. It was a revelation.
Butter de baratte, if salted, has actual, visible crystals of salt which crunch and melt on your tongue. I swear you can eat a pat of this stuff on its own, it’s so gorgeous. I don’t suppose the butter I buy, after all, from a supermarket is 100% handmade (apparently the genuine artisan stuff costs more than foie gras) but it says de baratte on the package and I trust the French when it comes to food.
Almost a shame to bake with it – but since I propose that the biscuits below are the best in the world, it’s only fitting that they should be made with the best butter in the world. Of course if you can't get hold of baratte use the ordinary salted butter, they'll still be lovely.
- 5 egg yolks plus 1 more for the egg wash
- 250g plain flour
- 175g icing sugar
- 200g softened salted butter, de baratte (hand churned) if available
- 1tbsp milk or water for the egg wash
- caster or Demerara sugar for the topping
In a large bowl or standing mixer with the dough hook attachment mix the flour with the icing sugar, 5 egg yolks. Add the butter and mix it in until a smooth dough ball is formed. Place it on a flat surface and roll into a fat sausage, about 5cm in diameter. Wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix the 6th egg yolk with a spoonful of milk or water. Slice the dough sausage into discs, not thicker than ¾ cm. Brush each biscuit with the egg wash and dip in a bowl of caster sugar – easier than sprinkling it over them. Bake for about 12-13 minutes only until they start to turn golden. Slide them off the tray but still on the paper as they’ll need to set a little before taking them off. Cool on the rack, store in a biscuit jar – they soften after a day or two.