Grey Skies and a French Fridays Catch-Up

Vancouver has a reputation for rain, but I prefer to describe the weather here as changeable, especially in spring and fall. It’s why Vancouverites are ridiculed (by Torontonians) for dressing in too outdoorsy a fashion – we must dress in layers to cope with the numerous weather conditions we might encounter in a single day.

It’s true that we’ve gone through a long stretch of damp, cold weather lately. The grey skies are beautiful, though. When the afternoon light streams through the clouds, the sky turns a luminous grey, tinged with blue. My Prairie-raised mother doesn’t understand it, but growing up here teaches you to really look at cloudy skies. Look beyond the Vitamin D deficiencies and you might find yourself catching your breath at the loveliness of the sky and the way it brings out the colours in everything else.

I can’t hate this weather, which becomes awkward for me socially, as friends and neighbours expect commiseration when they complain about grey skies. I can always escape to the kitchen, though. It’s definitely not too hot to use the oven.

I’ve been baking salted butter break-up cookies quite often lately. They were the March 18th French Fridays recipe, but I somehow never managed to post about them until now. Maybe it’s because, just writing this, I’m thinking about making them again. The first time I tried the recipe, I ended up with three batches in quick succession – one to sneak into a hockey game to share with my family and two to bring to a community event. After that, I kept finding excuses to make them again.

Salted Butter Break-Ups are traditionally made with sel gris, which is a coarse, grey sea salt. I used a coarse kosher salt in some batches and fleur de sel mixed with herbs de provence in others. The taste of salt pushes against the slight sweetness of what is essentially a simple, egg-washed shortbread. The herbs de provence gave the cookie another layer of flavour, too. This cookie could carry off a number of flavours – rosemary, cardamom or even curry. But however nice these variations can be, the plain cookie is enough to satisfy – salty, sweet, chewy and soft all at once.

The break-ups are baked in one large, rolled out piece, given an egg wash and then decorated with a criss-cross pattern, using a fork. Once it’s been baked and has cooled to room temperature, it’s served intact, with guests breaking off pieces to serve themselves. I’ve yet to serve it this way, though. I’ve broken them up myself and packed them into cookie tins or paper sacks – much easier to transport.

I’m going to have quite a lot of opportunity to keep baking these, as the weather isn’t set to warm up for some time. As you might have guessed, I don’t really mind.

You can find the recipe here, on Dorie’s blog.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of the salted butter break-ups here: Salted Butter Break-Ups


19 thoughts on “Grey Skies and a French Fridays Catch-Up

  1. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, Teresa. Your salted butter break ups look wonderful! P.S. I have tagged you over at my blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Elaine – I think I might have to make another batch today…I have a meeting later. I will go and check out the tag now. 🙂

  2. What great pictures! I have made so many of these cookies since they were the weekly post. So easy and enjoyable. In fact, I make two batches of dough and refrigerate one for a day or two later. This is one Dorie recipe I know I will be making 10 years from now.

    1. Thanks, Trevor. That’s smart to make two batches of the dough at once. ‘Cause I know I will want more a few days after the last batch is finished. I think you’re right, this is a recipe that’s going to become a family tradition – my nieces are already asking me to bake some with them.

  3. Love the outdoor photos! If you like gray & rain, then you would be thrilled with the East Coast today 🙂 (Actually, I love the crazy thunderstorms that we are having – but am not so enamoured with the flooding & wind damage).
    Those cookies were pretty good.

  4. These cookies are one of my favorite, too!! I feel the way you do about the weather…sometimes a grey day makes for a great time in the kitchen!! Beautiful photos and your butter break-ups look so good!!

    1. Thanks, Katie – they’re from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan. A number of us have been cooking through the book together and it’s a good investment. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog!

  5. Beautiful sky photos…just love those. We loved this recipe as well…is it a cookie, is it a cracker…all I know is that it was good! So easy…what’s not to love…yours looks beautiful with those fork tine marks…wow.

    1. Thanks, Kayte – it was a lovely day, rain and all. My nieces have now become obsessed with it and one’s even coming over to learn how to make it.

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