The Fresh Loaf

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Looking for a particular sugar cookie

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G-man's picture
G-man

Looking for a particular sugar cookie

Hey folks, I have something of an odd request.

I'm a big fan of Remo Borracchini's Italian bakery/deli in south Seattle. I get over there as often as I can. The problem is that I live in north Seattle. I don't know how many folks have tried to get from north to south or vice versa in Seattle...it isn't entertaining. As a result I wind up at Borracchini's maybe once a year.

They have amazing sugar cookies there. They're chewy and light, almost fluffy and cake-like, yet still undoubtedly a cookie. They taste like they have a bit of almond extract, almost, and maybe a little citrus even. It's very difficult to describe these cookies without actually having one. I've looked here for something similar and I've tried to get something out of google, but all I get are news articles since they were in the news not terribly long ago. I guess my search skills are failing me.

Does anyone have any idea about how to go about making these? I've played with recipes trying to get it and I've never even come close. I know this is a real stretch to post here, but if I could make something like these cookies for my wife she'd be thrilled. If you have any idea how to make something that sounds similar to this, I'd love to see it!

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Make them in a cool kitchen (and use a Silpat if you have one), because the butter quantity makes them tempermental.

INGREDIENTS

60 cookies

  • 340 g butter, softened
  • 400 g white sugar
  • 4 eggs (~220 g)
  • 3 ml vanilla extract
  • 2 ml almond extract 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 625 g all-purpose flour
  • 9 g baking powder
  • 6 g salt

30 cookies

  • 170 g butter, softened
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 2 eggs (~110 g)
  • 2 ml vanilla extract
  • 1 ml almond extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 310 g all-purpose flour
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 3 g salt


DIRECTIONS

  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond, and lemon zest. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least two hours (or overnight).
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS

  • They're too soft at 8 minutes for my liking. I like them crunchy, so bake for 10-12. If you like soft cookies, use 6 to 8 minutes baking time. They're crunchy (like I like them) when the edges start to brown.
  • I haven't bothered with an overnight rest, but that would probably work even better. One hour is insufficent for my refrigerator, which I keep at 40 F (1 degree below sleepytime for yeasts).
  • Once you mix the dough, spread it out into a rectangle on a Silpat (or plastic wrap) to about 2/3" thick before refrigerating. It's much easier to roll out at 2/3" thick than from a blob of dough in a bowl. It's similar to sweet pastry/pie dough in this regard.
  • The very high butter content means you have work very quickly in a cold kitchen–rather hard to do when you're oven is preheating to 400 F, huh?
  • If you wish to decorate them with coloured sugar(s), brush cookies with water and then generously sprinkle with (coloured) granulated sugar(s) before baking.
  • Use a Silpat (silicone mat)–if you have one–when rolling and cutting the cookie dough. Makes rolling, cutting, and transferring to parchment easier. I suppose you could just bake on the Silpat. I'll try that next time (or when I buy several smaller Silpats).
  • I use a pizza cutter to transfer the cookies from Silpat to parchment. Much easier than using your fingers, which are too warm by about 65 degrees. A pastry/dough scraper would work well too. You can also use polyethylene gloves (wasteful, I know) to limit the heat transfer from your fingers to the pastry. Neat trick I learned from a pastry chef when he taught me puff and croissant.
  • If you're making 60 cookies, remove only 1/4 of the dough from the refrigerator at a time. If making 30 cookies, remove 1/2 of the dough at a time. Why? They melt fast at room temp.
  • If the dough starts to fall apart (which it will do in less than 5 minutes), put it back in the refrigerator/freezer until it firms up. Re-roll as necessary.
  • Bake them on parchment paper instead of directly on an ungreased cookie sheet so you can remove them from the cookie sheet immediately out of the oven. They tend to crack if you cool them on the cookie sheet.
  • Resist the temptation to bake more than one pan at a time. You can do so, but the bottom pan will bake/brown unevenly and/or burn.
thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Only one way to do it fast: on a bike.

Moving back to Seattle soon, so will defintely try this bakery.

Is Macrina still open? I'm jonesing for a Columbia loaf and a olive baguette (and about 12 dozen French macarons from Le Panier)(and three whole Tarte Belle Helenes too)(and Reuben sammich from that bread bakery near Fremont-forgot the name)(and, and, and, oh my God! Cafe Besalu (which is in North Seattle (Ballard)). Quiche and croissants to mortgage your mother over! At least they were when I was last there in 2009.)

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello G-man, thanks for asking your question re: the cookies; the recipe thomaschacon has supplied seems like a good one :^).   The lemon and almond flavoring sounds lovely (fiori di sicilia extract might be another nice way to flavor these cookies, but that's just my tastebuds talking!).

@thomaschacon, I visited Tall Grass Bakery in Seattle recently - great breads!
Cafe Besalu was right next door and we didn't stop in! I didn't know they had such good croissants - but should have guessed, based on their sign :^)

I did get to taste a croissant from Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle, however, and it was completely divine!
Thanks for sharing your sugar cookie recipe.
:^) breadsong

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Their boules are like 10" high. I kinda' wonder if they're making ample use of vital wheat gluten (or witchcraft?) :D

The bakers are always so nice there. They sound like one big, happy family.

Besalu was remarkable when I lived there. Hope it still is. I'd drive all the way to Ballard for their Quiche Lorraine and cookies. The croissant were almost always sold out by the time I'd get there. He used to limit the purchase quantity because they'd sell out in an hour. He'd let you buy no more than 3. I called him the Croissant Nazi!

Will try Bakery Nouveau. If it's the bakery I'm thinking of, I think the baker won the Coupe du Monde in early 2000s?

Looking forward to moving back (if only to get a break from that infernal fireball in the sky that never goes away in sunny Colorado).

Thomas

G-man's picture
G-man

You're right about doing it on a bike. Preferably a mountain bike so you can stay off the roads as much as possible. People around here drive/ride crazy no matter what type of wheels they use.

Macrina has kind of exploded and frankly I'd consider them closer to Essential or Grand Central than Besalu.  They're sold in the better supermarkets.

I must admit I try to avoid Fremont. It's very crowded now that they've opened all those condos down there. 

Thank you for the recipe, I will certainly give it a try. If baking them a shorter time yields a softer cookie that will be the way to go. The cookies are certainly tender and not really crispy.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Not quite Fremont. More like between the University District and Fremont, right along the Burke Gilman Bike Trail. Wallingford! That's it. Always forget about that little section of $10,000,000 homes.

Essential makes a great Reuben (or they did).

Don't remember much about Grand Central's breads, but their ciabatta was quite good.

-

Sad to hear about Macrina. By exploded, I assume you mean that it's not what it once was. Oh well. Time changes all.

Agree about Fremont. I only go there on a bike (and make sure to bring my bike lock). Easy too, because the Burke Gilman passes right through there. Taking a car there is a nightmare!

There is/was a sandwich place in Fremont called the Baguette Box. They make/made a drunken chicken sandwich that was very good. (And homemade fries fried in peanut oil). They might still be there.

-

Yeah, bake these about 6-8 minutes and you'll get a tender cookie that's almost cake-like. Longer and it's more like a classic sugar cookie.

There's a really good classic sugar cookie in Martha Stewart's Cookies. Second to none, IMO, but not like the Italian one's you want.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I noticed a typo for the 30 cookie quantity.

It should be zest of 1/2 lemon for 30 cookies.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Dropped or cut?  

My Grandmother's sugar cookie is light for the size and round and the dough is dropped and squashed with a sugar coated bottom of a water glass before baking.  They are fragile too!  Dropped cookies tend to have wavy tops and cracked round edges where rolled & cut cookies tend to be smooth with clean cut edges and bottoms.

I picked up an excellent tip with Norm & Stan's cookie recipe for handling rolled cookie dough, and that is to lightly fold & knead the dough after chilling to strengthen the dough just the right amount before rolling.  Makes a big difference in handling the roll out type cookies and rarely mentioned in even the best recipes!  

G-man's picture
G-man

I'm certain they were dropped. They come out without any waviness on the surface, though. I'm not sure how they press them, but I'm certain they use a machine of some kind. They're too uniform to be completely handmade.

I will try to remember that tip with the folding when it comes time to make holiday cookies.