|The incomparable Joanne Chang
Christmas Baking is as much a part of the holiday as decorating the tree or singing songs of Christmas. And if you have children, it’s great fun to get them into the kitchen and bake a few cookies. This year, the press has been full of stories of the demise of the Twinkie and the loss of Ho Hos. To be honest, I was never a fan of either of these brands. But if you told me Oreo or Fig Newtons were going out of business, I’d be incensed. However, all of us who love pulling apart an Oreo to get at the frosting or biting into the gooey center of a Fig Newton would have a backup: A brilliant baker named Joanne Chang has mastered these treats and shared her recipes for them in “Flour”, the baking cookbook named after her Boston bakeries. And another brilliant baker, namely Andrew, has baked them for us and shared his tips for making perfect home-made Oreos and Fig Newtons.
2 pints ripe black mission figs or any fresh fig…we used what was in the supermarket.
1 orange, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher saltTo make the filling:
Position a rack in the center of the oven, heat to 350F.
Place the dough disk on a large sheet of parchment paper. Liberally flour the dough on all surfaces, then roll out into a rectangle about 16 x 9 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Don’t let the dough stick to the parchment or the rolling pin by adding a little flour as you gently roll the dough out.
Position the rectangle with a long side facing you. Spoon the cooled filling lengthwise along the center of the rectangle in a strip of about 2 1/2 inches wide.
Lifting the edge of the parchment farthest from you, drape the top of the dough rectangle over the jam, covering the top half of it. Gently peel the parchment away from the dough.
Repeat with the bottom edge of the parchment, draping the bottom of the dough over the jam. The edges of the dough rectangle should meet in the middle.
Gently pinch the edges of the dough together, and then turn the rectangle over, so it is facing seam-side-down. Using a pastry brush or your hands to brush any excess flour off the parchment.
Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until the short bread is entirely golden brown. A little fig juice make leak out the sides, but it’s fine.
Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 2 hours, or until completely cool. Using a chef’s knife, cut on the diagonal into strips about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
*Flour Cafe and Bakery locations are as follows:
Fort Point Channel 12 Farnsworth St., Boston MA 02210
617.338.4333 Mon-Fri 7a-7p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-4p
South End 1595 Washington St., Boston MA 02118
617.267.4300 Mon-Fri 7a-9p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 8a-5p
Central Square 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139
617.225.2525 Mon-Fri 7a-8p; Sat 8a-6p; Sun 9a-5p