"Geese Feet" Farmer's Cheese Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

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Baking a cookie that's loaded with butter when its 87° IN MY KITCHEN (seriously—and that's BEFOE I started preheating the oven) may not have been the best idea, but the frenzied Lucy-and-Ethel-on-the-assembly-line-ish race against a buttery meltdown was well worth it. Light and flaky, with a sugary crunch and a hint of lemon, Geese Feet cookies are the bomb. The. Bomb.

These cookies are Russian in origin, named something in Russian (which I can't get to display properly in Cyrillic so I'm not gonna try) that's pronounced "gusinie lapki" (and I'm not gonna try that either, lest I screw it up royally and offend Russians worldwide). Let's stick with "Geese Feet," so name because if you look at 'em reeeeeeally hard and maybe squint a bit they sort of look like…well, geese feet. Minus the webbing. And the attached geese.

They're made with a soft dough—almost like a rough-puff pastry—of flour, egg yolks, some decidedly non-traditional lemon zest (because I think everything needs a little lemon), a boatload of butter and…CHEESE! Tvorog in Russian, to be exact, a somewhat crumbly but creamy, fresh cheese. It's similar to quark, or more commonly in the U.S., farmer's cheese, which is readily available and what I used. After chilling, (VERY important for flakiness), the dough is rolled thin, cut into rounds, dipped in sugar, folded, dipped in sugar, folded, and—can you guess—dipped in sugar, then baked. The result is an incredibly puffy, crispy, light, slightly sweet cookie that you CAN store for a bit, although I can pretty much guarantee that you won't need to. They disappear fast. Faster than…well, stuff through a goose, if you get my drift.

These little feets are my contribution to this month's #CreativeCookieExchange theme, which is—no surprise here—cheese. Be sure to check out the links below to see what the other talented Exchangers baked up. They never fail to amaze.

"Geese Feet" Farmer's Cheese Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, well chilled
  • 7.5 oz farmer's cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. water, chilled
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon rind, or more to taste (optional) 
  • 1/2–1 cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Grate the butter into a large bowl.
  2. Break up the farmer's cheese and add it to the bowl, along with the flour and the zest (if using). Work everything together with your hands until you have pea-sized lumps. 
  3. Add in the egg yolks and water and mix until it starts to come together. It will look very dry and crumbly but this is okay.
  4. Turn the mixture onto a work surface and knead it until all the bits come together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour. The longer the better.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F, line two sheet pans with parchment. Place the sugar in a plate or shallow bowl and set aside.
  6. Divide the chilled dough in half. Return one half to the fridge while you work on the other.
  7. Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface, flouring as needed to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is very thing (between 1/16 and 1/8").
  8. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible. Gather the scraps into a ball, wrap and refrigerate until firm, and re-roll.
  9. Take each round and press one side into the sugar. Fold the round in half, sugar side in. Press one side of the folded round into the sugar and fold in half again, sugar side in (you'll have a quarter round). Press one side into the sugar again and place SUGAR SIDE UP on the sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining rounds, placing them about 1" apart.
  10. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Recipe source (with slight adaptations): Olga's Flavor Factory

Notes

Unless you have central AC (I don't), these may not be the best summer cookies. Keeping the buttery dough chilled is essential. My first batch was a race against time since it really WAS close to 90° in my kitchen. I rolled and sugared and threw them into the oven as fast as I could but the butter was still too soft, and mostly baked out instead of puffed up. The cookies tasted awesome but they didn't exactly have a multitude of layers. For my second batch, I started baking at 6 am when it was still sort of cool-ish, then I stuck the prepared cookie sheets in the fridge to firm up. And ta da! Flaky cookies. Chill out definitely applies here. You don't have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to bake but keeping the dough chilled is definitely important.

Freezing the butter before grating works like a charm. I always keep a few sticks in the freezer should I get the sudden urge for flaky baked goods.

If you can't find farmer's cheese, or quark or tvorog, this is the kind of cheese that you can easily make at home (Google!) In fact, I normally do—there's nothing like a fresh ricotta or paneer and the like—but again. Summer. My kitchen. 87°. 

#CreativeCookieExchange July: Cheese

Cheese makes everything better—even cookies! Sweet or savory, you can find them here!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Maple Bacon Cheddar & Pickle Pull-Apart Bread #BreadBakers

You read that right. Maple Bacon Cheddar & PICKLE Pull-Apart Bread.  I know it sounds like the weird craving of someone in her tenth month of pregnancy but trust me, it's good! Really! Now, when it comes to bread, my faves are still the basics—flour, water, salt and yeast (which is an excellent book, by the way.) There's nothing like a good artisanal loaf, all thin, crackly crust and creamy crumb and whatnot. But there's a lot to be said for the stepping outside the (bread)box. I came upon this recipe in the latest issue of Bake From Scratch, which is an awesome magazine, by the way. (It, along with King Arthur Flour's Sift, are two must-haves for any baker. I've pretty much stopped all print mags in favor of digital issues that reside on my iPad, but I couldn't resist these—definite keepers.) My first reaction to this recipe was the epitome of maturity. Eeeewwwwww! But then I thought about it a bit. Okay, maple, good. Bacon, good. Cheddar, good. Pickle, good. I mean, what's not to like?I was intrigued but still wary so I double-dog-dared myself to try it. Triple-dog-dared, even. And I wasn't disappointed.

Pillowy leaves of soft bread, savory cheese (CHEESE!), crunchy bits of salty-sweet bacon (BACON!), tangy-sweet pickle…somehow it all comes together. Add in the fact that A. it's a really easy—and relatively fast bread (for a yeast bread anyway) and 2. you get to play with your food, and it's a win all around. The basic dough is very versatile, definitely one to use again and again, so there are endless ways to be inventive with it if pickles aren't your thing. But give it this one a try first and you might be won over. too. I triple-dog dare you.

This bread is my entry for this month's #BreadBakers theme: breads made with natural sugars, hosted by Mayuri of Mayuri's Jakoni. Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other talented #BreadBakers came up with—they're a very creative bunch!

Maple Bacon Cheddar & Pickle Pull-Apart Bread

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2/3 cup warm whole milk (105°–110°)
  • 12g/1 tbsp sugar**
  • 8g/1 packet active dry yeast
  • 420g/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 58g 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6g/1 tsp. kosher salt

Filling

  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 60g/4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup bread-and-butter pickles, chopped

Directions

  1. To make the bacon, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil and parchment. Place the bacon on the baking sheet and pour the maple syrup over the slices. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bacon is somewhat crispy (see Notes). Let cool, then cut into 1/2" dice.
  2. To make the dough, combine the warm milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand until foamy.
  3. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add 140g/1 cup of flour and mix until just combined. Add the melted butter and another 70g/1/2 cup flour and again, beat until just combined. Beat in eggs, then gradually add the salt and remaining flour and mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook and mix until you have a soft, smooth, somewhat sticky dough.
  4. Transfer to lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly spray a loaf pan with oil spray and line with parchment paper.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface that's lightly floured. Gently deflate the dough and form into a ball. Cover and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Roll the dough out into a 16" x 18" rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tbsp. of the melted butter, then evenly cover with the bacon, cheddar and pickle bits. 
  8. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 strips, each 4" x 18". Stack the strips on top of one another then cut into 4" x 3" rectangles. (See notes for my alternate method.)
  9. Tip the loaf pan on its end and stack the rectangles in the pan. Turn it right side up and gently rearrange the rectangles to fill the pan, teasing the leaves apart if needed. If any filling comes loose (and it will), sprinkle it over the top of the loaf.
  10. Cover the pan and let rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
  11. Brush the loaf with the remaining butter, then bake for 40–45 minutes, covering with foil after about 30 minutes if needed to prevent excess browning.
  12. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Bake From Scratch Summer 2016

Notes

*Yes, I was channeling the Friends episode where Rachel mistakenly combines two recipes and makes a trifle with beef. Joey: "I mean, what's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!"

**The original recipe calls for sugar but since this month's theme is all about natural sweeteners, I substituted an equal amount of maple syrup for the sugar.

The recipe calls for you to sprinkle the bacon, cheddar and pickle bits over the entire rectangle of dough, then cut and stack. I made a complete mess of things this way (the bits-laden dough strips stretched like crazy and bits went everywhere) so the second time, I cut the four strips, sprinkled the bits over one strip, stacked the next strip, sprinkled bits, lather rinse repeat. Much less messy for me and I had almost no problem with stretching.

About that crispy bacon, good luck with that. Baking thick cut bacon, especially bacon that's coated in maple syrup, does NOT, in my experience, result in anything approaching crisp. Not unless you want to burn it, that is. Which I did. Twice. So you don't have to. On my third attempt, I stopped short of burning it but it was still a bit too done for my taste, considering it cooks a bit more during the bake. Finally, I just baked it until it was the way I like it—which is not crisp at all (both Mr. Dough and I really don't like well-done bacon). It still cooked up more during the bake but I was fine with it. TL;DR—keep an eye on the bacon and stop when you think it's right. It's bacon. How could it be bad? Unless you burn it. Twice.

I forgot about covering the pan after baking for 30 minutes, which is why my bacon looks extra browned. Doesn't affect the taste any but aesthetically, covering the baking loaf helps a bit.

#BreadBakers for July: Breads with Natural Sweeteners

We're all about baking with natural sweeteners this month—no refined sugar. Some of the natural sweeteners are maple syrup, honey, blackstrap molasses, dates, banana puree, coconut sugar, balsamic glaze, brown sugar syrup, real fruit jam made without any sugar, stevia, palm jaggery. NO SUGAR, white, brown, demerara, turbinado, muscovado, etc, were to be used in the bake. Thanks to Mayuri at Mayuri's Jikoni for hosting and for an interesting theme!

BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

No-Bake Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

Some people live for endless summer. I am not one of them. I start crabbing as soon as the temperature goes over 75° and I don't stop until the leaves start turning. It's the heat AND the humidity and I'm just a big pill about the whole thing. It doesn't help that our house isn't air-conditioned (which I don't like either—BIG pill), which pretty much puts the kibosh on my love of baking. The last thing you want when the temps are hovering in the 90s is the crank up the oven to 500° to bake a loaf of bread or a batch of cookies, but I do it anyway and then crab about it endlessly. I think I keep baking in the summer because I'm such a crank that if I don't woo people with treats, they'll most likely want to kill me or at least tape my mouth shut. 

Summer and cranky people are why no-bake cookies were invented. You get your cookies and you keep your cool. WIN! You'd think that, for me, no-bake would be a no-brainer, wouldn't you? And you would be wrong. Because based on my research (Google), it seems that the majority of no-bake treats contain chocolate (eh). Or nuts (HATE!) Or worse still—and I can barely say the words—peanut butter. Which I detest with the power of a thousand blazing suns. So no-bake has been a no-go for me. Til now. 

I am in love, love, love with these no-bake apricot coconut oatmeal cookies and I couldn't be happier that I stumbled on them. No chocolate, no nuts, no peanut butter. Wheeee! Instead, they're chockfull of things I love—dried apricots, oatmeal, dates, lemon. I didn't even mind the coconut (not the biggest fan). I don't know that I'd consider them to be a cookie-cookie—more like a handful of dried fruit—but they're shaped like a cookie, they look cookie-ish and Tess the Blender Girl calls them cookies, so I'm running with it. Whatever you want to call them, they're tangy, they're bright, they're chewy and satisfying, they're full of good-for-you stuff…and they're dead easy. (Oh, and they're also raw, vegan and gluten-free if you're into that sort of thing.) You do need a food processor—I can't see any way around that, but you should have one anyway, right?—and a food dehydrator does makes things a lot easier, but there's a workaround if you don't have one. From start to finish (not including the dehydrating part) if these took me 15 minutes it was a lot. Almost instant gratification, which will put a smile on the face of even the worst summertime crabby pants. 

No-Bake Cookies are the theme for this month's #CreativeCookieExchange, just in time for summer. Be sure to check out the links below for some amazing cookies!

No-Bake Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed grated fresh apple (about 2 medium apples)
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbsp raw unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp coconut nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Throw all ingredients into the bowl of food processor and pulse until the mixture is thoroughly blended and holds together. Adjust ingredients to taste, if preferred. (I added a couple of teaspoons more coconut nectar for sweetness and two lemons' worth of zest because one can never have too much lemon).
  2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and scoop into balls, then flatten into a cookie shape.
  3. Place the cookies onto dehydrator racks lined with mesh sheets and dehydrate at 100°F for 10-15 hours (time will depend on the size of your cookies or your preference.)* The cookies will be dense and chewy. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from The Blender Girl

Notes

*If you don't have a dehydrator, preheat your oven to 300°F, then turn off the heat, place the cookies inside, close the door and let cool. Repeat this process until the cookies reach your preferred consistency. 

I always use organic ingredients for raw foods.

Unlike nuts and peanut butter, I can deal with coconut, even though it's not a favorite. I don't particularly care for the texture so I was very happy to find Let's Do Organics finely shredded coconut. It's, well, finely shredded so it doesn't overwhelm. 

I used Wholesome's Organic Coconut Palm Syrup, which, I'm assuming is the same thing as coconut nectar. Readily available in the organic section of the regular grocery store, at least in my area.

I used a medium size cookie scoop for smaller cookies, which gave me a yield of around 30.

#CreativeCookieExchange No-Bake Cookies

Too hot to turn on your oven? The theme this month for the Creative Cookie Exchange group is No Bake Cookies! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes—be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). We all post on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking (or this month "no baking"), check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made: