The Fresh Loaf

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Duchess Bake Shop’s Cardamom Orange Sablés Bretons

Benito's picture

Duchess Bake Shop’s Cardamom Orange Sablés Bretons

"These traditional French butter cookies are a snap to make. They positively melt in your mouth and make a great addition to any holiday cookie lineup. The cardamom-and-orange combination is perfect for the holidays, but if you aren’t a fan, you could simply omit those flavourings and add a bit more vanilla."—Giselle Courteau, co-owner, Edmonton


I’ve only heard of Sablés before and never had them.  When my brother in law sent me this recipe in interested me and since I have some cake flour that I seldom think of using I thought it was a good time to put it to use make these.  The most challenging part of making these is transferring the dough onto the cookie sheet and spreading it evenly onto the cookie tray particularly since I do not have the recommended size cookie tray.  I eventually prevailed and was able to get a pretty decently even sheet.


**I found the instructions a bit odd in that the butter and sugar aren’t creamed as is the usual method of these sorts of recipes so I put in asterisks what I did**


Prep 20 min 

Total 1 hour 50 min 

Makes 16 cookies 


1 1/2 cups cake and pastry flour , (180 g) 

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp  ground cardamom 

1/2 tsp salt 

3  large egg yolks 

2/3 cup granulated sugar , (128 g) 

1 tsp vanilla 

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter 

1 tsp orange zest 


1 egg yolk , beaten 

2 tsp , sanding sugar 



Line a 9×9-in. baking pan with parchment, leaving overhanging edges on 2 long sides. 

Sift flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt into a large bowl. 

Combine 3 yolks and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until thickened and pale yellow, about 2 min. Beat in vanilla until combined. Beat in flour mixture, butter and orange zest just until combined. 


I’m not sure about the instructions, I think the dry ingredients as above are fine.  But the order in the mixer should be cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, vanilla and orange zest.  Next add the sifted flour, baking powder, cardamon and salt mixture.


Transfer dough to prepared pan. Press down with your hands, working dough into all corners. (You may need to sprinkle a little flour on
top so it doesn’t stick to your fingers too much.) Using the flat bottom of a cup, smooth top. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Position rack in centre of oven, and then preheat to 350F. 

Topping: Brush top of cold dough with beaten yolk. Run the tines of a fork across dough horizontally and vertically to create a design. Sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. 


Bake until cookies are golden-brown, 25 to 30 min. Remove from oven. Immediately run a knife between parchment and pan. Lift overhanging parchment and transfer sablés to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 min. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 


These are quite delicious and they do melt in your mouth to some degree.  I would definitely make them again.



happycat's picture

Interesting. I thought sablés were shortbread. Never seen this before. Very cool top. Love the colour and texture.

I'm a big fan of shortbread. My neighbour was from the UK and used to buy us a round tin of it every year. It's crazy expensive in the shops and doesn't taste that great anymore,

For comparison, here's a very simple 4 ingredient Scottish-style shortbread that reflects a version I'm familiar with. You gotta scroll halfway down to get to the recipe.

It's worth splurging on the butter. Did you use a fancy butter for yours? I see Gay Lea is pushing a new line since they took over Stirling and other small creameries.

Sadly, I've been avoiding butter-heavy stuff lately.

Benito's picture

I’ve always thought the same, these seem to be something slightly different.  The addition of the egg yolks seems to be the largest deviation from a traditional shortbread to me, granted I’m not an expert on thing shortbread and rarely make cookies.  These are quite as short as the usual shortbread either.  I think I prefer the shorter texture of a shortbread to these which are ever so slightly cakey.  I think making a shortbread but adding the orange zest and cardamom would actually be really great, the flavour of these but the shorter traditional texture.  That being said, these will get eaten, well mostly by the condo staff as I’ll bring them down tomorrow!


run4bread's picture

I've made Sablés a few times and am known for my ginger shortbread, so thought I could be helpful here.

I checked Dorie Greenspan's recipes for French Vanilla Sablés (Dorie's Cookies, 2016). She creams the butter, sugars and salt, then add yolks, one at a time, and then the vanilla. Then flour. 

Re Shortbread, yes, no eggs. Just sugar, butter salt and flour. For me, zested fresh ginger and candied ginger, generous with both. I don't bother with sugar on top, the candied ginger is enough. The link above for shortbread uses salted butter, no added salt. 

Just as there are a lot of variations on shortbread, there are lots of variations on sablés. I made lavender white chocolate a couple times for a summer tea party. 

Happy baking! 


Benito's picture

Thank you Paula, I’m happy that I made the change to the procedure to be more typical for sablés. 


albacore's picture

Interestingly, the original mixing method described is how you make Génoise sponge. ie whisk egg yolks and sugar in a mixer on maximum speed until you get a ribbon trial, add in sifted flour bit by bit and then trickle in melted butter - the basic building block of a fine cake, but maybe not a sable.....



Benito's picture

I’ve never made a Genoese sponge Lance, but all the other recipes I looked at creamed the butter and sugar then added egg yolks later.  If I make these again I suppose I could actually follow the recipe and see if there is actually any difference it how they turn out.  Perhaps they’d be more melt in the mouth though I’m not sure they would.


Ju-Ju-Beads's picture

Hmm… makes me wonder whether to try a combo of methods. Maybe beat the eggs/sugar till it leaves a trail -thoroughly dissolving the sugar crystals- then adding the butter, and finally the flour. And if it isn’t fabulous, poor me, I’d have to eat my mistake!

Benito's picture

That’s a great idea Ju Ju, if you do try that do come back and let us know what you discover.