Sablés – French Butter Cookies

Exactly a week ago, we had a brand new stove with a brand new oven installed in our kitchen. Our existing one was quite old and its gas oven had broken down causing me much grief. I was ecstatic when we got the new one especially because it has an electric oven which is the kind I’m used to and I find it less temperamental than a gas oven. It’s not a fancy cooking range, just a simple four burner stove at the affordable lower end of the price range.  So for the last week I’ve been, almost fanatically, scouring websites and magazines, looking for baking, roasting, stewing recipes especially with the holiday season in mind.

french butter cookies

While I was debating how to put the new oven to use, Peter suggested baking some cookies, not surprising given that he’s a cookie lover. That’s how I turned to a recipe for sablés I’d seen in a French cooking magazine called ‘Saveurs’ (completely different from the American ‘Saveur’ magazine) a copy of which I’d picked up on a not so long ago road trip. The main reason for choosing this recipe was that  it sounded easy, something I could pull off after a long hiatus from baking. And while my spoken French does not go beyond ‘bon jour‘ and ‘merci‘, it helps that Peter is fluent in the language and hence could help translate the instructions. Although I must say that by now my French culinary vocabulary is quite good but while I can understand most of it, don’t ask me how to pronounce them!

Sablés or butter cookies are delicious with a cup of tea and something that does not require too many ingredients. All it requires is a bit of patience and time and of course, a functioning oven 😉

French Sables

Sablés

Ingredients  (these measurements are meant to be for 50 little cookies according to the original recipe. I ended up with around 40, so the exact number may vary depending on the size of your pastry cutter)

300g plain flour

100g caster sugar

a few drops of vanilla extract

a couple of pinches of powdered cinnamon

a pinch of salt

200g cold butter – cut into small pieces

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and mix it all together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. This can be done by hand or with a pastry blender if you have one. Add a few tablespoons of water (I had to add about 4 spoons) to the mixture and bring it all together until it forms a ball.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Roll it out until it has a uniform thickness – not too thick or thin. Cut the dough into  small rounds using a pastry cutter –  I had to be ingenious and use the mouth of a glass bottle to do this but it worked just fine.

cookie dough

Transfer the cookie shapes to a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Place the sheet in the oven and bake until the cookies turn golden with a dark rim. This should take approximately 15 minutes. Transfer baked cookies to a wire rack to cool and store in a jar.

french butter cookies

french cookies

Sables

Repeat in batches until you’ve baked all the cookies.

Sables

These cookies turned out very well and made tea and coffee time pleasant. They can also be used as an accompaniment to desserts such as chocolate mousse,  crème brûlée, flans, etc. So if you have any such dessert lined up for your upcoming festive meals, go on and bake these lovely little cookies, it will be well worth the effort. And oh, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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