If you’ve taken a class from me or you are my husband, you have heard me say “color equals flavor”. It is my anthem. I will sing it from the rooftops. I really should get t-shirts made.
For this very reason my puff pastry teeters on the edge of burnt as I adore the golden toffee flavors that exist on its copper edges. I hold my breath while making caramel as I creep up to the line of complete and total disaster trying to get it as close to a deep, dark umber as possible. I’m rewarded with a caramel that is rich in flavor and not cloyingly sweet as a tinge of bitterness cuts through the sweetness creating a perfect balance.
Sticking to my motto I will often try and figure out more ways to squeeze in another layer of flavor by adding a toasted, caramel, nutty quality. For example, I will often reach for dark brown sugar instead of white and I love using browned butter in place of a plain cube of butter.
This dedication to darker flavors led me to the discovery of toasting flour. Before I started experimenting I had never heard of this before and then suddenly today, Dorie Greenspan (my baking hero) posted a recipe for toasted flour shortbread. If Dorie posts it you know it must be good.
My version takes flour to a deep golden color. The resulting cookie is borderline savory, lightly sweet and immensely nutty. The texture is pleasantly tender which makes for a bit of a crumbly dough, but I insist that it is worth the mess and misshapen cookies. My favorite accompaniment for these shortbread is raspberry jam. Although raspberry buttercream isn’t bad either.
My preferred method for toasting the flour is in a large pan on the stove. Over medium heat I constantly stir two cups of flour until the desired color is reached. This takes about 10-15 minutes. You could toast in the oven as well. At 350* place two cups of flour on a baking sheet. Stirring every 10 minutes roast until desired color – for me this was about 45 minutes. I like it good and toasty. As your flour reaches the correct color the smell will wander through the kitchen leaving scented trails of roasted nuts and freshly popped toast.
not toasted /toasted
For a less intense roasted flavor you could toast for less time or simply use half toasted flour and half regular. Always sift the cooled flour as it has a tendency to form little clumps during the toasting process. Which is why I say toast 2 cups rather than the 1 1/2 cups called for in the recipe.
Just think of the possibilities this technique opens up. Imagine the flavor of bread that is baked with half toasted flour. Chocolate chip cookies would be even more irresistible. Toasted flour cakes would give another reason to celebrate.
Other flour toasters:
Toasted Flour Shortbread
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups toasted flour* (see directions on how to toast above)
2 T heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup turbinado sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350*
Cream the butter, vanilla and sugars. Add the flour, cream and salt. Stir just to combine.
Place the crumbly dough on a sheet of parchment. Form into a 1’ log. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top and press it into the dough covering all sides.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.
Slice the log into ¼’ rounds and bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 2 dozen