Sunday, February 9, 2014

POILÂNE'S PUNITIONS | FRENCH BUTTER COOKIES

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Poilâne's Punitions. I feel like I should just write "Need I say more?", post the recipe, and move on.
To be very honest, I did not know about this legendary boulangerie before reading about it in a magazine, right before a trip to Paris. The author recommending the place wrote about the three things she would always buy there: the "Punitions", the flour, and the salt. At the time, I was not into baking nor was I one to understand the quality of ingredients used in baked goods. But still, I was intrigued and made a trip to the Poilâne on rue du Cherche-Midi, and went to see for myself.
In the magazine photograph, the cookies looked plain and pale and exactly what a butter cookie should look like. Well, it turned out that the photograph was, in a way, telling exactly the truth. The Punitions were plain and pale and exactly what a butter cookie should taste like, but perfectly so. They were the ultimate butter cookies. The texture crisp, delicate, and crumbly, and most a beautiful shade of blond ("most" because due to the fact that they are handmade there are a few darker-toned ones which are even more beautiful), the sweetness understated, and the packaging very pretty. I didn't understand what made them so, but I did understand that they were perfect. Poilâne's Punitions left a very big impact on my tongue.

A while ago, I came across Dorie Greenspan's website and discovered that she had posted the recipe for Poilâne's Punitions (which she learned from Monsieur Lionel Poilâne himself). I was surprised that I had forgotten about these cookies (so much for my tongue's memory), and that I had not thought of looking for a good butter cookie recipe before. Well, better late than never; I am extremely happy that I found this recipe. I will admit, they probably do not taste quite as good as the Punitions sold in Poilâne. This is probably due to the fact that I am not using the exact same butter, flour, oven, etc., but they are still delicious and very easy to make. I recommend using a cookie cutter with scalloped-edges to make them as pretty as the original Punitions, and also to bake them a bit longer than the original recipe because I think the slightly darker ones are the best Punitions. And for those of you who were wondering, "punition" means "punishment" in French. If you are interested, you can learn why these cookies are called "Punitions" on Poilâne's website, here.

* note: if you plan to use a food processor to make the dough, read the recipe originally posted by Dorie Greenspan, here, to learn the perfect way

* { poilane's punitions adapted from lionel poilâne, via dorie's website and paris sweets by dorie greenspan }
— click on the images above, or continue reading for the recipe


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{ ingredients } makes about 50 cookies
140g unsalted butter at room temperature
125g sugar
1 large egg lightly beaten
280g all purpose flour

{ method }
1. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat together with the butter until the sugar is thoroughly blended and the mixture turns light and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten egg and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and satiny.
3. Sift in the flour and cut into (fold into) the butter using a rubber spatula, until the mixture resembles streusel. Using clean hands, gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. Shape each half into a flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 1 month.)
4. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 4-7mm (I personally think 5mm is perfect). Using a 4cm scalloped-edge round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can, and place on the lined baking sheets. (Gather the scraps into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and keep chilled to make more cookies later.)
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they are set but still pale. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Keep the cookies in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days, or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.

* note: If you use a convection microwave oven like I do, you may have to bake the cookies for a bit longer. I usually bake mine for about 15 minutes to get some dark-toned cookies along with the classic pale ones.

2 comments:

  1. Do you ever add salt to this recipe (or use salted butter)? I baked it once without and once with about 1/4t salt and liked them a lot more with some saltiness. Curious whether the originals have a hint of salt or no?

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  2. The Poilane punitiins have no salt. There package states the ingredients as gluten, butter, sugar, eggs. 0mg sodium listed under nutritional values.

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