Salted Butter Breakups

French Fridays with Dorie

Salted Butter Breakups
Well, if renovation and reinvention cause me to work up a thirst I know now that natural disaster, environmental destruction and human tragedy of epic proportions will likely kill my appetite for cooking up much of anything. This week’s sorrowful events have left me with nearly zero drive for ‘chefing it up’ or blog writing. Were it not for French Friday’s with Dorie I doubt that I would have even turned on the oven or broken an egg this week. My kitchen is a good sport and so it still tried to cheer me up. It hasn’t been easy. Walking into it usually separates me from the everyday stresses and challenges life will throw my way. Perhaps it is because these irritants in my life suddenly seem so minor and inconsequential that the kitchen now seems a bit unnecessary?

I’ll snap out of it –if there were to be any week for the Doristas to be assigned a recipe such as this – this was the week. Not being up for much fuss this one delivers. Only 5 ingredients that everyone should have them handy (if you don’t count water!)

Mix ’em up, chill the dough, roll it out, score it, bake it. There. Done. All that is left to do is let your lucky friends break off a piece and chew on its sweet salty goodness. They are sure to like the control that comes from picking out the piece they think they will like best. Dark and toasty? Light and chewy? Its all here and quite pretty to look at too as it gets reduced piece by piece.

This cookie is like a French lady with a scarf. Something so simple yet done in such a way as to be something quite special and uniquely beautiful. So simple in fact that at first I surprised to see it in the book and yet by experiencing its easy elegance and style I now see it demands inclusion.

Dorie’s recipe is all over the net by the hundreds so I’m going to repost it here. Besides, I think she may have even posted it herself more than once. Not all salts are created equal. If you use sel gris you might consider upping the amount called for in the recipe. I ended up using a full 50% more than the recipe calls for and it was perfect. I reserved some to sprinkled over the top since that is quite trendy these days. I made two batches but the one I let chill in the refrigerator for 3 days before baking was over the top fantastic. Despite this, this cookie’s beauty and style is more form over content and there is something very French about that. N’est-ce pas?

Salted Butter Breakups

 Salted Butter Breakups

Salted Butter Breakups

Salted Butter Breakups

(from Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table”)

This is what you will need:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt (use a bit more if using sel de fluer or sel gris)
  • 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
  • 3-5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg yolk, for the glaze

This is how you make it:

  1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal—you’ll have both big pea-size pieces and small flakes.
  3. With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball.
  4. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.
  5. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square, and pat it down to flatten it a bit.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.)
  7. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it’s very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it.
  9. Put the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it into a rectangle that’s about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 x 11 inches; accuracy and neatness doesn't count for a lot here.
  10. Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet.
  11. Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with an egg glaze.
  12. Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern.
  13. Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden.
  14. It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center — the perfect break-up is crisp on the outside and still tender within.
  15. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.


Not all salts are created equal. If you use sel gris you might consider upping the amount called for in the recipe. I ended up using a full 50% more than the recipe calls for and it was perfect. Some was sprinkled over the top since that is quite trendy these days.



About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don’t know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]” means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small ‘boom’ in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a “food blog” or even myself a “food blogger”.

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  1. I wish I had upped the sel gris in this recipe – I bet it made so much difference, but we still loved them anyway and they didn’t last. Love your idea about sprinkling some extra salt on top! I love that first photo.

  2. Agreed that this could stand an increase in the sel gris & that this was definitely the week for simplicity.

  3. I absolutely LOVED this recipe. Plain, it was fabulous. When I dipped the pieces in chocolate, it was outstanding! 😉

  4. We loved this recipe but I agree that a little more salt was great!

  5. Great photos! I know we’ve all be focusing on the tragedy in Japan…but I’m glad you took the time to distract yourself in the kitchen…

  6. Me, I could take a whole stick of butter, roll it in sel gris, and just eat it. That said, this may be a better approach. Your review is just glowing! And your use of short depth of field in the photo is masterful!

  7. Great photos and I agree…tough week all around. I’ll have to remember to up the sel gris in my next batch and I love the idea of sprinkling some on top too.

  8. Beautiful photos! Glad this recipe was the inspiration you needed to turn your oven on this (tough) week.

  9. Interesting that the dough that sat for three days turned out more amazing! I am piqued by your mention of sel gris. All I could get my hands on was kosher salt! I hope you and the rest of the world can come together despite this tragedy. Take care!

  10. I used a combination of pink Himalayan salt and regular sea salt, sprinkling a bit of sea salt in the end. I need to find some sel gris!

  11. Trevor, I have an article from the NY Times that diagnosed the chocolate chip cookie. One thing they noted, was that a longer chilling time, resulted in a better cookie with much more flavor. They suggest 12 to 48 hours. I only chilled mine an hour…I did not plan well. Next time I will chill longer. Yours looks great! I agree this has been a terrible week with so much sadness.

  12. As soon as I put a piece in my mouth, I started doing the Homer Simpson “Cooooookie … *arrrrrrrggggdroooool*” thing. Super attractive, let me tell you. I was going to take a baking sabbatical this weekend but I have to try this out for myself! Thank you for sharing!

  13. I have been out of sorts this week too. We are all so lucky.

    I used sel de gris and wish I had used more because I think I would have liked these better had they been salter.

    Loved your beautifully written post!

  14. Trevor,

    Great post, as always. It’s wonderful to have a virtual community to offer mutual support at times like this. I just read that there are 87,000 Americans who may be evacuated from Japan. I lived in Japan for 2 years when I was little and experienced far worse earthquakes than I’ve ever felt in CA. I keep thinking my family could have been 4 of those 87,000. Keep your chin up and try to think of how blessed we are to have all the comforts of home right now.

    BTW, I don’t know if you ever make it up this way, but I saw our water goblets that you admired at the Corning Ware outlet in Camarillo with a matching pitcher the other day. {{{hugs}}}

  15. My blood pressure is escalating just reading this post. Morton’s “no salt” is an option I imagine (not)! I agree, hard to whip up those confectionery dreams when so many are suffering. But a nice, simple “staple” like this suffices. And beautiful photography! Throw a little more salt on there while you’re at it!

  16. Such pretty pics. I agree, there needed to be more salt. Loved this cookie! 🙂

  17. Beautiful photos of your perfect giant cookie! And I second your feelings and also agree that there are foods I would not get cooked it not for this group pushing me on…I even start to feel guilty if I’m not prepared to post.

  18. Thanks for the tip on sel gris amount. I used the full amount for fleur de sel and found it lacking. Though it was neat to pair with butterscotch pudding and butter pecans for a dessert platter.

  19. oh yum! great looking texture.

  20. an easy recipe was definitely a good fit for a stressful week such as this. looks beautiful

  21. Mine needed more salt so I’ll add a lot more next time based on your recommendation.
    This week did cry out for simplicity somewhere. Why not in the kitchen?

  22. Stunning photos and wonderful post. It was a trying week and you captured the angst beautifully. Even those that escape natural disasters get thrown off balance when considering a recipe in the midst of it all. But often, that is just what that doctor ordered 🙂

  23. Very interesting about letting the dough chill for longer – I will give that a go next time!

  24. I look forward to reading your posts on Fridays – they’re always so well done!

    And next time I will try more salt and some chilling time – thanks for the tips.

  25. Great idea to make two batches and compare. I wish that I had thought of sprinkling salt on top. GRRRR. But there is always the next time.
    I agree with you, this was the perfect week to do an easy recipe like this. I had to spend time in the kitchen to feed the Beasties, and cooking is a type of therapy for me. But I am still feeling very downbeat.

  26. I love how you compare this cookie to a french lady with a scarf.

  27. The past week’s tragedy definitely puts things in perspective. Glad you made it back to the kitchen. Your cookie looks amazing.

  28. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you found your nutella! A must have in the panty at all times. I think you are right….a giant ginger snap salted break is a great idea. Sounds like a future project in the making.

    I just read a few of your other posts…very entertaining! I read you recently gave your blog a new look and feel. I recall stopping by your blog before with FFwD but don’t exactly remember what it looked like. But the new look is great–cool color palette and logo/header.

    I would love to hear some of your favorite food destinations in OC. Always looking for something new to try. Have you tried the Kobe burger at Sapphire in Laguna? One of my faves!

  29. I hope that these hit the spot. It has indeed been one hell of a week on the world front.

  30. Beautiful and heart felt post and your cookies are perfection! Bravo and your right about the French woman with the scarf 🙂

  31. These cookies were amazing. I did sprinkle s bit of extra salt on top and I think it made a difference. It gave it that wee bit of extra saltiness. What a great recipe. I enjoyed your post this week. Great job.

  32. Hmmm… would you say it’s like a shortbread? GREG

  33. “Like a French lady with a scarf” – well said!

  34. LOVE your first photo … breathtaking!