December 06, 2012

Making something your own

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They aren't exactly what they should be. But close, actually. A tender dunking cookie that calls for simple things. It's the simple things that are the hardest to make, I think.

So, confidently, I retrieved the wood board from the basement and assembled the wet and then the dry. And, it was different, yet again. Different from try one, two, three, and so on.

The amount of moisture in the flour. The amount of juice from a squeezed lemon. The temperature of the eggs and the milk. 

But there was sameness as well. The same wood board, wood bowl and pastry brush. The sound of the oven coming up to temperature. The damp towels drying on the oven door.

The sun was shining, though. The outside temperature, falling. I dug into the task.

The task of combining the wet:

3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla

add to that:

1 cup white sugar

add in, alternating:

3 cups all purpose flour (do not sift)
3 tablespoons baking powder

That is it.

It can be done in a mixer (which I do) or by hand (if you like that sort of thing).

On the day I observed the original recipe being made, the woman (Roberto's aunt) used the mixer for the wet and then her hands for the dry. She manipulated the dough as if it were bread. It didn't have a chance. She worked it into submission. It visibly relaxed when she pulled her hand from the bowl.

She was making a half recipe that day. Her half recipe had something in the order of 7 eggs and flour, well, who knows how much. It was all by feel. Her feel.

The recipe I've attempted to adapt is a little less than half of her half. I think.

At this point, the dough is more like a batter (more than half the time). You'll think me mad when I say to pour it out onto a well floured board (or counter top) and then sprinkle even more flour on top. Use a light hand, though. You can add flour, but you can't take it away. Keep one hand clean or you'll grow frustrated, quickly. With a dough scraper, fold the dough onto itself, like it were bread dough. Sprinkle more flour (I work in 1/3 cups at this point), and fold. Eventually the dough will feel right. Not sticky. Not like a batter, but a dough.

Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness.

With fluted pastry wheel and steady hand make your cuts. Your rectangles should be roughly 1 inch x 3 inch.

Line a sheet pan with parchment and line up your rectangles, leaving about 1 inch between each. Bake at 350 degrees for 16 minutes, rotating the tray after the first 8 minutes.

When the cookies are ready, place them into a bowl to cool slightly before brushing off any excess flour. Immediately place cookies into a plastic bag.

Repeat until every ounce of dough is used up, even the scraps. Scraps are great for checking your work and extending breakfast a moment or so longer.

And so these were named morning cookies, but they are perfectly suitable con espresso. You can dunk them if you like, even in wine (preferably red). They are quite nice for use in finishing up the milk from a bowl of morning cereal as well.

15 comments:

  1. I have been reading a book about an English woman's life in Italy and after I read your first post about these biscuits I read her description of the morning biscuit crumbled into the coffee. I am destined to give them a try and I will. I am glad you continued with the experiment. I just have to find out what we call canola oil.

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    1. Hi, Kath. You can substitute canola with vegetable oil or maybe even the lightest of olive oils. I'm curious about the book...

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    2. I was reading Annie Hawes' Ripe for the Picking. I read Extra Virgin a few years ago and stumbled on Ripe for the Picking the other day.
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Annie-Hawes/e/B0034OODPM
      Thanks for the canola translation.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Denise. They have a great shelf life.

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  3. I am so glad you perfected this recipe. Now all I have to do is follow it and enjoy the results. Thanks, Tracy.

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    1. I hope you have luck. If anyone can do it you can, Michele.

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  4. I saw your photos of these cookies on Instagram and am so pleased you've posted the recipe. Love the way you've made it your own and the comforting goodness from these photos. Cold days are useful for some things at least.

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    1. Small victory on a cold day. At least the oven keeps the house a little warmer.

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  5. I didn't understand morning biscuits when I first came to Italy. I do now. Both my son and I would love these. This the way to learn to makes things, observing, trying, trying again, eating, reflecting. It is monday morning and cold and wet here, yuck,

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    1. It requires a lot of patience. And, yes, this is the perfect biscuit for Luca and his mum.

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  6. Growing up in Italy, that's what we have for breakfast: biscotti e latte-e-caffe'. Biscotti meaning any generic cookie that can be dunked. I quite like the name you gave these: "morning cookies" because they fit just the part. Your wood board, wood bowl and pastry brush are lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Amelia. I knew you would understand morning cookies well.

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  7. The simple things are the most difficult to make for sure! It took me many years to make a descent cake!!!And those cookies looks lovely!

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    1. Thank you! It's almost time for another batch...

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