Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Two things have driven me to make these cookies today: 1. I don't have a real job (I'm a substitute teacher for this year--hopefully just this year) and 2. We are moving to a new house in 9 days. This here is probably stress baking.
I've packed up most of my kitchen, but of course I've left out many of my baking ingredients. I had everything I needed for these except for my rolling pin. Guess that's in a box somewhere. So I had to use parchment paper and a quarter sheet pan to press the dough out, and I have to say, I think it was a winning technique.
These cookies are winners too: crisp, light, buttery, just sweet enough, and with a shadow of coconut flavor. If you want more of a punch you in the face coconut experience, perhaps you could add a dash of coconut extract.
For me, these are just what I was shooting for. Simple and delicious coconut shortbread.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
     --adapted from Simple Family Finance

  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons butter (salted), cold and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil *
  • about 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons sugar mixed together for dusting
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the toasted coconut, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the cut up butter and coconut oil, and cut it in with a pastry blender. Keep cutting the butter in until the butter and dry ingredients become a dough and the pastry blender seems to be cutting it into slices.
  • Dust a clean work surface with half the sugar and flour mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten roughly into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with more flour/sugar mixture. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, trying to maintain a rectangular shape as much as possible. 
  • Cut with a pizza or fluted rotary cutter into about 1 1/2 inch square pieces (or smaller, if you'd like). You'll have scraps left at the end that you will want to bake as well.
  • Place on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. (*At this point, you can also place unbaked cut dough on a wax paper lined sheet and freeze. Place frozen dough pieces in a zip top freezer bag and store in freezer until ready to bake.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
*If you don't have coconut oil, you can just use all butter (1 cup). I was hoping for more coconut flavor from the coconut oil, but I didn't want to alter the texture of the shortbread by adding too much coconut oil.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sourdough English Muffins

Toasted and buttered homemade Sourdough English Muffin

What do you do when you don't have a job but you do have live sourdough starter in your refrigerator? You look up sourdough recipes on the internet and try them out--that's what you do. This is another English Muffin recipe from my favorite: King Arthur Flour.
I can tell you that these are easy and tasty. I made them square because I think it's a pain having to cut things in circles and then deal with the scraps. Square things taste just as delicious as round ones do. These turned out light and fluffy, with a slight chew when toasted, and just barely tasting of sourdough. I'd still like to figure out how to make English muffins with the Thomas' nooks and crannies, but for now, these will do. Yep. These will do.

Sourdough English Muffins
    --adapted from

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients (using only 3 cups of the flour at first) except the cornmeal. Turn the mixed dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until springy, soft, and smooth, using only as much of the additional 1/2 cup of flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Place the kneaded dough back into the bowl and cover. Allow to rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until puffed and nearly doubled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with a light coating of cornmeal. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch, push, roll it to a rough rectangle shape about 1/2 inch thick. Trim about 1/2 inch off each side and cut into 12 pieces. Place the square pieces of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Allow to rise for about 1 hour. (You can also let the scraps rise and bake them off or cook them in the pan.)
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. When muffins have risen, place as many as you can comfortably fit with some space between on the skillet. (If they touch, they will stick.)
When muffins are browned on one side (about 4-5 minutes), carefully turn each one over with a metal spatula. Cook for about 4-5 more minutes. When muffins are browned to your liking on each side, place on the other parchment lined baking sheet and put in the oven for about 6-10 minutes, or until you are sure the inside is cooked through. When done, remove with a spatula to a cooling rack.
Repeat with remaining muffins.
When muffins are completely cool, you can slice or split with a fork, toast, butter, and enjoy.

Makes 12 English muffins

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