Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Squashed Fly Cookies

There is so much to like about these cookies (which is probably why I ate half of the last batch right off the cooling rack). They're buttery, crunchy, and chewy -yet sturdy enough to pack up and take along to the beach or in a lunch box. They have a great name, made up by British school children to describe the currants that poke out around each cookie's edges. Best of all, you can make a batch in a half an hour, and then turn the oven off and get back to enjoying your summer! If you don't like currants, or can't find them where you live, substitute any other finely chopped dried fruit. --Rebecca Faill

Makes approximately 20 cookies, each 2" x 4"

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons water, plus a little more for brushing
1 1/2 cups (7 1/8 oz) currants
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) coarse sugar, for topping

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (or very lightly grease two cookie sheets).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the vanilla extract and milk. Mix the liquids into the dry mixture with a fork or with your fingertips. You can add extra milk, one tablespoon at a time, if needed to get the dough to come together. The dough should seem a little dry, but not so dry that it won't hold together in a clump when squeezed. Gently knead the dough one or two times until it forms a ball. Be careful not to work the dough more than necessary, or your cookies will turn out tough.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces. Set one piece aside, covered, and roll the other out into a rectangle 1/8" thick on a well-floured surface. Brush a thin layer of water over the dough and spread 3/4 cup of the currants on one half of the rectangle. It will seem like there are too many currants, but don't be tempted to use less than 3/4 cup or the finished cookies won't have enough filling. Fold the empty half of the dough over the currants, as if you were closing a book. This will sandwich the fruit between two layers of dough. Press the sandwich together gently with the palm of your hand. Roll the sandwiched dough out again into a rectangle almost 1/8" thick.

Whisk together the egg and 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of this egg-wash. Sprinkle on 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse sugar as decoration. Cut the dough rectangle into 2" thick strips, each no longer than your cookie sheets. Lay these long strips on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 1/2" space between each. Repeat the shaping and decorating process for the second half of the dough. Bake each sheet for 14 to 18 minutes or until the cookies are just brown. Remove the strips to a rack to cool. When completely cool, break each of the strips into individual cookies, each about 4" long.

Yield: 20 2 x 4-inch cookies.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cookie, 38g): 121 cal, 4g fat, 2g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 3g sugar, g dietary fiber, 21mg cholesterol, 88mg sodium, 121mg potassium, 42RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 67mg calcium, 101mg phosphorus.

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