I apologize frequently. Very frequently. Things I have apologized for in the past 24 hours or so include:
1. Someone running into me
2. Not having exact change for a sandwich
3. Not knowing Andy's favorite dessert category wasn't cookies and making him dozens of cookies over the years instead of "dense cakes."
That third one is particularly rich (ba-dum *tsssss*). Seriously, though, I've been putting together pastries and cookies and pies to the deliberate exclusion of cake, and then the other shoe drops. Time to make cake after cake after cake in penance! Or I could make everything but cake, including more pastries and cookies and biscuits. But wait, I have an excuse!
Despite the advice of this book, I like to make butter. With butter, ricotta, and other mild dairy products, the labor is worth the pure, fresh flavor of the resulting product. One day, when I'm an attending and my loans are paid off*, I will buy fancy local milk and make butter and ricotta and clotted cream that will have that grassy, sunshiney flavor of quality dairy.
Until then, though, I'm using Fairway's conveniently on-sale heavy cream and Greek yogurt to make cultured butter. Technically, cultured butter uses fermented cream**, but I took the hasty American route and mixed the cream and yogurt, then left it for about 24 hours in a warm-ish corner of my apartment before whipping it, draining off the amazingly delicious fresh buttermilk, and washing, salting, and pressing the final product.
I used the butter and fresh buttermilk to make biscuits, and then I used more of the butter to make galettes bretonnes. These very simple butter cookies are made in--surprise, surprise--Bretagne, using the region's traditional salted butter. Nothing coming out of a miniscule galley kitchen could possibly measure up to beurre en Bretagne, which is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. Nevertheless, I deemed my product acceptably rich and tangy for use in these cookies, whose sole purpose is to show off the flavor of the butter with which they are made.
250 g cake or pastry flour
100 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
140 g cultured butter (or 100 g regular butter + 20 g sour cream), very cold
for glazing: 1 egg or 3 tbsp melted butter
sea salt for sprinkling
Mix together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, crumb the butter with the dry ingredients. Add egg and mix. If the dough does not quite stick together, drizzle in buttermilk or sour cream, for a maximum of about 1 tablespoon. Chill the dough for 2 hours, or until very firm.
Working in small batches, roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut using a biscuit or cookie cutter; traditionally, these cookies are pressed, but who (except my in-laws) has a cookie press lying around the house? Prick with a fork all over and brush with whichever glaze you choose. Bake at 375 F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
There's still half a pound of butter left. Butter-poached vegetables, anyone?
*Did you know that in Canada, med school costs between $3,000 and $22,000 a year, and fourth-year (or third-year, in the case of three-year programs) students receive a small stipend from the Ministry of Health?
**a.k.a. crème fraîche or smetana or viili or leben or amasi or... basically, many world cultures have intriguing varieties of fermented dairy. Maybe one day I'll have a chance to try kumis.