Since reading Michel Roux’s Pastry, I had been hankering after a marble work surface. In the absence of my Dream Kitchen, in which such things would immediately become a reality, I tried fruitlessly to hunt down an affordable alternative. And then, quite by chance, I found just the thing while far from home in Edinburgh – thank you Lakeland. And what a bargain at under £20.
This evening the marble board had its first outing, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it will change my life (well OK, maybe just a little…). I tried Punitions, the French butter cookies made famous by bakery Poilâne. The recipe of choice, which follows below, was from Dorie Greenspan’s book Paris Sweets and it worked a treat. I used a food processor to make the dough as she suggests, and the resulting texture was perfect. The cooked biscuits were sandy, not too sweet and incredibly moreish. Definitely a keeper.
Punitions, adapted from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
280g plain flour
Put the butter in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process it until smooth. Add the sugar and process until blended thoroughly with the butter. Add the egg and continue to process, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. All the flour all at once, then pulse 10 to 15 times until the dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface (preferably the aforementioned marble…) and gather it into a ball. Divide the ball in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap in clingfilm. Chill the disks until they are firm, about 4 hours if you have time. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 4mm and 7mm thick. Using a 4cm round fluted cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined sheets, leaving about 1cm between them. Gather scraps of dough into a disk and chill them for use later.
Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are set but still pale. If some of the cookies are thinner than others, they may brown around the edges – this is fine. Transfer to cooling racks.
These cookies can be kept in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.