Saturday, February 12, 2011

Broyé de Poitou and a terrible presentation

Tasty
Well, folks, as you may or may not know, I am currently taking some paralegal classes part time. I am in my second term and it has been brutal. It hasn't helped that since the beginning of winter quarter I have moved and for three weeks did not get much sleep, but it is also harsh because I have a ton of class work for both of my classes, on top of working full time and belly dancing. So when at the beginning of the term I found out that my employment law class required we give an international presentation and that food was encouraged, I knew right away what I had to do. I knew I would give a presentation on French labor law (having worked in France myself), and I knew I would bring in a Broyé de Poitou.

If you recall, for Christmas I received the really awesome book Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. My grandmother was the proud giver of said present, and as soon as I opened it I started flipping through the pages and admiring the lovely pictures and recipes. When I came to the dessert section and found a broyé, I nearly cried. You see, when I studied abroad in Poitiers, France, one of the first local delicacies I remember trying is a broyé (along with a Pineau de Charentes and a torteau fromagier, which can also be found in the book). It is a delectable giant butter cookie that you are supposed to be able to break with your fist, but I tried and tried and had to just break it by hand. It is the perfect baked good for sharing with a group. Naturally, it would be a great thing to present to my class.


Unbroken
And I did present it to my class. But the rest of my presentation was not so good. You see, I have this little thing called anxiety and when I get in front of a group of people, despite liking talking in front of people, I get really really nervous and my body starts to shake and my voice comes out a little louder than usual. It's a real train wreck. I have to plant my weight evenly on both feet or else my one leg will begin to shake uncontrollably. Then I become terribly frustrated and embarrassed because my physiological reaction to being in front of people is far worse than how I feel about being in front of people (which I enjoy, normally). So, when I gave my French labor law presentation, I kind of forgot half of what I wanted to say and my notes were useless because I can't focus enough to read when I'm in front of a crowd. But at least the broyé was good!

Salted Butter Break-Ups (Broyé de Poitou)
adapted from Around My French Table

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4-1 tsp sea salt
9 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3-5 tbsp cold water
1 egg yolk, for the glaze

     Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal- you'll have both big and small chunks. With the machine running, start adding cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough it should be very malleable.
     Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a disc, and pat it down to flatten it a bit. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour.
     When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment  paper.
     Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it's very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough into a round or oblong shape until about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet.
     Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with the egg glaze. Using the back of a fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern.      Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden. It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center. Transfer the baking sheet to rack and allow to cool to room temperature.


All broken up

Note: Do not put to much water in the dough, as it will make for too soft (but not in a good way) cookie. Break the cooled cookie apart by hand- don't even try to break it using your fist, unless you're made of steel.

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