We went the savory route for this month’s Bake Together. And I went with Spanish flavors, not the first time I’ve veered in that direction. What can I say, I’m a little boring.
I really love Abby’s Bake Together challenges. Up until she started them, I was a pretty strict recipe follower. I still am, at least the first time I make something. I’ve got enough experience in the kitchen to have some intuition about how to fix things if they aren’t turning out right or if there’s something missing (acid, it always seems to be acid – or salt).
These monthly challenges have given me the confidence to take a recipe and tweak it to my tastes right from the start. And the results have been really good! Last year, one of my favorite desserts was the blueberry lavender sorbet that I made for the June 2010 challenge. And this year, we were nuts over February’s cheesecake – my take was Meyer lemon, with a speculaas crust. As a result, I’m finding it easier to dip my toes into developing my own recipes (I even entered my first ever recipe contest – I didn’t win, but it was a lot of fun!).
For these savory sables, it was pretty easy to decide on the ingredients, knowing I was going the Spanish route. I used things I always have on hand: manchego cheese, smoked paprika, macrona almonds. I kind of wish I would have also had some quince paste, because it would have been a delicious pairing.
I liked the end result, but I think I wanted them to be a little saltier. And my longing for quince paste to go with it is just an indication that while they were good, they needed a little something else to make them great. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sometimes baked goods are best with a partner.
I used Kosher salt instead of table salt, thinking that adding salted almonds to the mix would make up for it. But I wish I would have either stuck with table salt, or used more Kosher. I did a straight swap-out of the parmesan for shredded (aged) manchego, and left out the thyme and cayenne but added smoked sweet paprika instead.
The only added ingredient was marcona almonds, ground up in the food processor and added to the dough during the fraisage process. I liked the bit of texture and nuttiness that the almonds added.
Adapted from: Abby Dodge
Makes 29 sables
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated manchego cheese
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 7 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons very cold water
3 ounces marcona almonds
Maldon salt for sprinkling
To make the dough:
1. Put the flour, cheese, salt and paprika 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. Put the almonds into the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground (about the size of sesame seeds). Add the ground nuts to the pile of dough and gently toss together.
3. With the heel of your hand, push and gently smear the crumbs away from you until they start to come together in a cohesive dough. Two or three â€˜smearsâ€™ 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.
4. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375Â°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 donâ€™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. Sprinkle the crackers with a little flaky sea salt (Maldon preferred) just as the baking sheets come out of the oven. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
5. 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 325Â°F to refresh the flavors.
- Spanish Sables (adapted from Abby Dodge)