Tag Archives: flo braker

flo’s snack cake

i’ve had flo braker’s baking for all occasions book for a while now. . . and just came across her recipe for any day all-occasion snack cake (p. 66).  it’s a simple to make and deliciously versatile cake.  one can drop in anything from berries to carrots to raisins to diced apples. Continue reading

espresso shortbread cookies

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grape jam rugelach with pecans and chocolate chips

i never realised how good rugelach can be until i bought an individual one for 90¢ at sarabeth’s bakery inside of chelsea market one weekend.  Continue reading

a very berry jam square

the final leg of my rain saturday cookie-a-thon involved making these jam squares.  flo discloses in her book that she had admired these creations at a local coffee shop for a long time and when the baker, susie block, was getting ready to move to the midwest, she gathered up the courage to ask for the recipe.  and i’m sure glad she did!  my husband loves these jam squares. he ever so quietly popped four down the gullet before i even noticed.  they are fruity, rustic and crunchy — all at the same time.

once you get the pastry dough down, the recipe is highly adaptable. however, the recipe is really only as good as the jam that you use.  i still have a ton of earl grey blackberry jam that i made earlier this summer, and decided to pop that into the recipe. you really want to use a jam that has got more fruit than it has water / gelatin content.  the latter, once melted in the oven, would just turn the pastry dough soggy.

i decided that these were sturdy enough for shipping, and individually packaged them up in cellophane sleeves for my xmas cookie bundle.  they kinda look nicer once they’re separated into 2 inch small squares!

Very Berry Jam Square
(adapted from Flo Braker and Susie Block.  Makes about 24 squares)

Butter 2 sticks (225g)
Sugar 275g (amount decreased from the original recipe)
Eggs 2 large ones
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Flour 300g
Salt ½ tsp
Pecans 85g, chopped in a food processor (you can use any kind of chopped nuts. it doesn’t have to be pecans)
Jam 280g (about 1 cup) (you can use any kind of jam.  i used a blackberry earl grey jam)
  1. Line a 9x13x2 inch pan with foil. Leave about a 2 inch overhang on the short ends.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment until light and creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Beat until smooth. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. On the lowest speed, add in the flour and salt. Mix until a dough forms.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 portions: one about 400g and the other 470g.
  6. Wrap the 400g portion in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator.
  7. Take the 470g piece of dough and fit it into the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch pan.  The easiest way to do so is to use a soda can (wrapped in plastic) to roll the dough slowly out into a thin layer to cover the bottom of the pan.  You can also use your fingers to spread the dough around the bottom of the pan.
  8. Sprinkle the pecans evenly across the top of the dough, then spread the jam on top of the pecans using an offset spatula.  Some of the pecans and jam will intersperse together.  But it will all taste great, so don’t worry about keeping the two apart.
  9. Split the 400g piece of dough (that had been resting in the refrigerator) into 8 equal pieces.  On a well floured surface, roll each piece into a rope that is about 12 inches in length.  Fit these pieces of rope in a diagonal criss-crossing fashion across the top of the jam. You’re aiming to make a lattice window frame with the dough ropes, and should be able to see some of the jam and nuts through the “windows”
  10. Bake at 350ºF for around 40-45 minutes.  The jam should be set, and the tops and bottom of the jam squares will be golden brown.
  11. When the pan has completely cooled, carefully take the large jam square out of pan by lifting it out using the foil and a spatula.  Peel off the foil and discard.
  12. Cut into 2-inch squares using a serrated knife.
  13. To store, stack the cookies using layers of parchment paper to separate.  They should keep at room temperature for 3 days in an airtight container.

espresso shortbread cookies

part of my rainy saturday cookie-a-thon included making these espresso cookies adapted from flo, of course.  they are really easy to make and with a little bit of ground up stumptown espresso beans, delicious in the mouth as well.  that said, in a future iteration, i’d probably throw some chocolate into the mix for added depth.

note: flo’s original recipe advocated baking the dough in a 8×2 inch pan and then cutting the baked dough into 12 shortbread bars.  i’m a fan of smaller nibbles and decided to make about 5 dozen petite cookies instead.

Espresso Shortbread Cookies
(makes about 5 dozen cookies using a 1 inch diameter cookie cutter; adapted from Flo Braker)

Flour 255g
Salt ½ tsp
Butter 225g (2 sticks)
Sugar 120g
Finely ground espresso coffee 2 tsp (I used Stumptown’s Ethiopia Mordecofe)
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  1. Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until the butter is light and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and ground coffee and continue to beat until the mixture becomes fluffy and light.
  3. Add in the vanilla and mix till incorporated (15 seconds).
  4. On the lowest speed, add in the flour mixture and mix until a dough forms.  Do not overmix.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  6. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter to form shapes in the cookie dough.
  7. Transfer the cut-out cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking pan.  Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes.  The cookies will no longer be shiny when they are done.
  8. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 1-2 weeks.

flo’s mexican wedding cookies

it was cold this weekend, and wet, and it snowed.  i decided to stay cooped up at home and bake…well…a lot of cookies from flo’s book.  the first cookies i made were these surprisingly simple to make mexican wedding cookies shaped into crescent moons.  they came out really well with very minimal effort.  they taste quite a bit like the velvety and crumbly russian tea cookies i made in cooking school with the benefit that one doesn’t have to be quite as careful not to overmix them.

i’m about to head over to the post office to mail out the cookies i made this weekend.   hopefully they don’t arrive at due destination as a pile of crumbs!

Mexican Wedding Cookies
(Makes 4-5 dozen; adapted and simplified)

Flour 255g
Salt ¼ tsp
Powdered Sugar 70g + more for dusting
Pecans 115g
Butter 2 sticks (225g)
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until it is light and fluffy.
  2. Pulse together powdered sugar and pecans in a food processor until finely ground.
  3. With the stand mixer set at its lowest speed, add in the sugar/pecan mixture to the butter, then add the vanilla, and finally the flour and salt until all ingredients are combined.  You may need to intermittently stop the food processor and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to help things along.  Do not overmix.  The dough will be quite soft, almost like mashed potatoes.
  4. You can make the cookies into any shape you’d like:  cutouts, slice and bake, crescents or thumbprints.  I chose to make crescents.  To do so, measure about 15g of dough (~2tsp) and roll it into a ball.  Then shape the ball into a short rope about 2 inches in length with slightly tapered ends.  Bend the rope into a moon shape and place on a parchment covered baking sheet.  The cookies don’t spread very much and can be placed about 1/2 inch apart.
  5. Bake the cookies at 325ºF for about 12-15 minutes.  The bottom of the cookies will be a light golden brown.
  6. Dust the cookies with powdered sugar when you take them out of the oven.  You can dust them directly in the pan or transfer them to a cooling rack first.  The heat from the cookies well help the sugar adhere to the cookies.

the jetsetter cookie: crispy anzac biscuits

i think i may have found my new favorite cookie (or should i say biscuits as they hail from down under)!  crispy, crunchy, fragrant … flo says these anzac biscuits were invented during WWI by housewives to send to australian and new zealand soldiers fighing in the trenches. the housewives used golden syrup to bind the cookies biscuits together as eggs were in short supply during the war.  the cookies biscuits were also designed to survive a long journey — it’s actually quite a bit like a granola bar cookie, if i do say so myself!  i think i might just send a few to my friends in different parts of the country for christmas…as they travel well!

i came across a few other anzac biscuit recipes and will be testing them out in a bit.  for now, i’ve got quite a big jar of flo’s anzacs to work through.

Crispy ANZAC Cookies Biscuits
(~4 dozen cookies; adapted from flo braker’s Baking for All Occasions with a few modifications)

AP Flour 195g
Sugar 280g
Unsweetened Shredded Dried Coconut 130g
Rolled Oats 130g
Baking Soda 1 tsp
Lemon Zest 1 tsp
Dried Cranberries ½ cup
Dried Currants ½ cup
Butter 190g
Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Honey 90g
Hot Water 3 tbsp
  1. Mix together flour, sugar, coconut, oats, baking soda, lemon zest, cranberries and currants in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on low speed.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan.  Take it off the heat and then add in golden syrup and water, stirring until even.  (here’s a trick for measuring out the golden syrup or honey:  line your measuring bowl with plastic and pour the syrup into the plastic lining.  to add the syrup into the mix, just gather up the ends of the plastic, cut a small hole on the bottom and squeeze the syrup through.  this way you won’t leave 30% of the syrup in the measuring container).
  3. Add the liquids into the flour mixture and combine with the paddle attachment set to low speed.
  4. The resulting cookie dough is very crumbly.  Use a tablespoon to scoop out the dough and squeeze it tightly into a ball. Set the ball on a parchment lined baking sheet.   Then slightly flatten the ball with the palm of your hand.   The cookies can be placed about 1 inch apart from each other.  They spread but not too much.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown and then cool on a rack.