Sablés by Yves Cameborde

DSC_0369 Yves Cameborde is a celebrated French chef known as the ‘King of bistronomy’. I personally celebrate him because he wrote this amazing recipe for sablés, the Breton version of shortbread. I found the recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini, a bilingual blog I love because it’s written by a French woman living in Paris who has been very inspired by the melting-pot cuisine of California, as she lived there for many years. Being a Francophile born and bred in California, I can relate!

As Clotilde at C&Z points out, these sablés are so exceptional because they are slow baked at a lower temperature, allowing them to have a crispy crunch and a nice, caramelized golden brown exterior. They are the best of Brittany: the perfect showcase for exceptional Breton salted butter. And they couldn’t be easier to make…

Sablés (Breton shortbread)

DSC_0367

Prep time: 15 minutes     Cook time: 30 minute     Overall time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Ingredients

200 grams (7 ounces, or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) good-quality unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used beautiful Breton salted butter, and didn’t add salt to the recipe)
90 grams (scant 1/2 cup) sugar
a good pinch salt (as I used salted butter, I skipped this)
1 or 2 vanilla beans, depending on their size
250 grams (8 3/4 ounces, about 2 cups) flour
egg yolk or 3 tablespoons milk for brushing
coarse sugar for coating (I use a large-crystal unrefined cane sugar)

Tools

  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Knife
  • Stand mixer (optional, can also be mixed by hand)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment paper

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter with a spatula until creamy. Add the sugar and salt and mix them in thoroughly.
  2. Split the vanilla bean(s) down its (their) length and collect the seeds by scraping the insides of the bean with the dull side of a knife. Stir the seeds into the mixture. (Save the empty pods for another use — to make vanilla sugar or vanilla oil, to infuse in milk, etc.)
  3. Add the flour and rub it into the butter mixture with the tips of your fingers until incorporated.
  4. Although Camdeborde recommends making the dough by hand to avoid heating it, Clotilde at C&Z confessed she made it in her stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. I made it the old school way because I like to get my hands dirty!
  5. Gather the dough into a ball without kneading (this is the fun part because it’s like playing with Play-Doh. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a log, about 3 cm (1 1/4 inches) in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and place in the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can freeze all or part of the logs to bake later; thaw partially at room temperature for about 1 hour before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°C) and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper.
  7. Remove the logs from the fridge. Beat the egg yolk, if using, with a few drops of water to thin it out. Working with each log in turn, use a pastry brush to coat the log with egg yolk or milk on all sides, then sprinkle with coarse sugar until coated all over.
  8. Use a sharp knife to slice the logs into rounds, about 1 cm (1/3 inch) in thickness. Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet, leaving just a little space around the sablés — they won’t expand much.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, until the dough is set in the center — the cookies will barely color — and the sugar is lightly caramelized on the sides. Let rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  10. The sablés will keep for about a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Bon appétit!  

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