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Les sablés viennois au chocolat d’Aïda (et aussi un peu de Pierre Hermé)

[Aïda’s (but also, Pierre Hermé’s) chocolate sablés viennois]

I would have preferred a guinea pig.
Those were my first words when my mother told me she was pregnant. As an eight year-old single child, the anticipation of having a sister – or even worse, a brother – was a rather dreadful thought.
However, as years went by, I got used to the idea. And today there is hardly anything or anyone I love more than Aïda, the sweetest sister ever. Not even my awesome boyfriend – or more accurately lack of boyfriend-awesomeness (blond guy who works a Kusmi, find me and my number, and call me); not even my Kitchen Aid stand-mixer. Yes, she totally rocks this much.
So basically, when she asked if she could have her own column on foodbeam, we both got somewhat excited. She chose a recipe. From Pierre Hermé – just another evidence of her innate terrific-ness.
Sure, at the exact moment I write this, she’s being plain annoying and makes me wish I would actually have had a guinea pig instead; hopefully, she’ll soon turn back into the great sister she is most of the time :)

Anyway, let’s move on to the sablés. Rich little pieces of butter and chocolate (and quite obviously, flour, sugar and egg white as well). The recipe, which comes from Pierre Hermé’s Mes desserts au chocolat, should make 65 sablés. What we didn’t know is how small they’re supposed to be; clearly we ended with around 30 chunky biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. And get all the ingredients ready:
– 260g flour
– 30g cocoa powder
– 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
-100g icing sugar
– 3tbsp whipped egg whites (use 2 eggs and spoon out 3tbsp)

You can prepare your piping bag at the same time.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder, until no white or brown streaks remain.

Cream the butter using an electric whisk, until fluffy. It must be very soft, almost cloud like.

Fold in the sugar and a pinch of salt.

Separate two eggs, keeping the white only (save the yolks for another use – pastry cream, yum!).

Whisk the egg whites until frothy. And fold three tablespoons of them into the butter mixture.

Mix in the flour and cocoa powder and stir with a spoon until just incorporated. The dough should be sort of lumpy.

Not too lumpy though. Keep in mind that it’ll be piped.

Fill the prepared piping bag with the dough, pushing down to get rid of the air.

Pipe small Ss (however, Ws would be prettier). And bake in the preheated oven fo 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. When cool, keep in an airtight box for up to one week.

Help, I have done it again; I have been here many times before – Apple cider vinegar English muffins

english muffins

I had high hope about 2008. See, a little more than a week ago, things couldn’t have been more perfect. Indeed, potatoes were finally to be celebrated through the immensely important international year of potato; which, needless to say, kept me in a state of ecstasy.
That, until my laptop crashed, leaving thousand of pictures and a miserable me behind. Days passed by and when I eventually felt brave enough to start eating again, I found them, sitting in a little basket. They sure had some shoots pointing through, but still looked quite perfect to me. The glorious potatoes.

english muffins

Not that you care, but last night, I had mashed potatoes with a spoonful of confit d’oignons stirred in and a fried egg on top of an English muffin. And it was good. The mashed potatoes were soft and creamy; just what you would expect from something after which a year was named. The confit d’oignons brought a nice contrast – both taste and texture wise. The fried egg was cooked to perfection: the oozing yolk sat on top of the white that had crispy golden-brown edges. And there, almost hidden underneath and totally unpretentiously, laid the apple cider vinegar English muffin.
I hear you coming though. Oh yes, I do. What’s so special about that English muffin? Show me the potatoes, you teaser.

english muffins

And well, I might, in the future, but those little fluffy breads, the ones you see above and below and, ahem, all over foodbeam right now, they’re out of this world. The taste is fantastic, so is the texture. Yeah, I bit into one. Just to check you know. But then I kept biting and just when I though it couldn’t get any better I found that gorgeous pocket of air.

english muffins

As you might have guessed, Dan Lepard is the guy behind all this. And as usual, he clearly rocked it.

Apple cider vinegar English muffins
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s The Guardian ‘s guide to baking

I’ve always been a big English muffins buyer as nothing quite appeals to me as much on Sunday mornings as a toasted English muffin does. However, since I’ve discovered how to make these at home, I’ve never looked back.
The dough relies on both apple cider vinegar and live yogurt as souring agents. Thus, the finished muffins have a pleasing sour flavour.


The dough, although pretty soft, was fun to work with and felt really smooth after a couple of kneads and folds.
As with most Dan’s recipes, you are required to knead the dough very gently three times at 10-minute intervals, and to fold twice it during the proofing time (at 40-minute interval). If you have no idea of what I’m talking about you can go and check there, as the process I used for making foccacia is sensibly similar.

Apple cider vinegar English muffins

makes 12

The night before
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g warm water
50g apple cider vinegar
100g live yogurt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp salt

Melt the butter then mix in the other ingredients and whisk until smooth.

375g flour
2tsp easy-blend yeast

Mix well then allow to rest for 10 minutes. Then start kneading Dan’s way – three times at 10-minute intervals (use some oil to prevent the dough from sticking to both the work surface and your hands). Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning
Oil your work surface and turn the dough onto it. Do the regular stretching and folding at 40-minute intervals for 2 hours. Roll the dough 1,5cm thick and cut out discs using a 8cm cutter. Lay the discs onto a floured surface, dust the tops with flour and allow to proof for at least 2 hours.
Place a heavy-bottomed frying pan onto moderate heat then slide the muffins into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes then flip over and cook for a further 4 minutes. Then turn off the heat, flip the muffins and leave them in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and get on with the remaining discs of dough.