Dorie suggests bringing your freshly baked broyé to the table whole, and letting everyone break off pieces big and small. I read elsewhere that a broyé is broken with a swift punch. The swift punch method sounds more fun to me. Seriously, I needed to make this gigantic cookie, with an entire cube of butter incorporated therein, like I needed a swift punch in the head.
With my interest piqued, as it usually is by the introductory paragraph before each of Dorie's recipes, I started Googling.
Poitou-Charentes, known as one of the most tranquil regions in France, is comprised of four departments along the western coast - Vienne, Deux-Sévres, Charente-Maritime and Charente. Islands off the coast include Ile d'Oléron, known for oyster catching as its main industry, and Ile-de-Ré, popular for its many salt marshes, as well as a reputation for receiving the most hours of sunshine in all of France, not counting areas along the Mediterranean. Apart from tourism, the economy relies heavily on the farming of corn, melons, sunflower, wheat and other important crops. Also notable are the many vineyards, cattle farms and dairy industry.
Photo from About French Property
Butter produced in the town of Echiré, Beurre d'Echiré, located in the Deux-Sèvres department, is served at the best tables throughout the world (Read Dorie Greenspan's New York Times article, Butter with a Pedigree. Ah, the French).
Photo from About French Property
And while we're at it, the world's best-known brandy also comes from the Poitou-Charentes region, in the peaceful countryside surrounding the Charente River. A twenty-mile area called the "golden circle" of cognac production encompasses Cognac and the second distilling town of Jarnac.
I think we need to reevaluate "fun." Fun is not breaking one of these cookies with a swift punch. Fun is hopping a plane to the Poitou-Charentes region of France, for a tranquil vacation of lounging in the sun, slurping oysters, sipping Cognac, and eating buttery, butter with a pedigree, croissants. Not necessarily in that order or during the same lounging session.
Getting back to our Salted Butter Break Up, the dough is easily prepared in the food processor with flour, sugar, French or premium American butter (82-84% milk fat), sel gris salt, and a few tablespoons of ice water. It's then wrapped in plastic, refrigerated for an hour, rolled out to a rustically shaped rectangle about 1/4-inch thick, brushed with egg yolk, and adorned with a crosshatch pattern with the back of a fork. It bakes for 30-35 minutes, until golden, emerging crisp on the outside and still tender within.
Although Dorie neglects to specify the use of butter with a pedigree, she does recommend sel gris. Sel gris or grey salt is a cooking salt from the coast of Brittany in France where it is still made using a time-honored way that was carried through the centuries. In February of each year, artisan salt farmers sculpt eight-chambered clay beds and flood the first chamber with water from nature preserves. During the next three months, the salt moves from chamber to chamber. In July after it has reached the eighth chamber and crystallized in its purest form, the farmers rake the salt to the edge of each bed. The salt picks up its gray color and distinctive flavor from the healthy blue-green-hued minerals in the bed's clay bottom.
In addition to the butteriness, "the cookie is undeniably salty, and now and again, you can even feel the salt on your tongue." It's true, the cookie is crisp on the outside, slightly tender within, deliciously buttery, and noticeably salty, in an addicting way. Okay, it's also fun.
Newf Notes: In Dorie's NY Times' article, if you can't find French butter, she recommends using some American producers like Keller's, which makes Plugra (also sold as European Style Butter), which has 82 percent butterfat butter, and Land O'Lakes' Ultra Creamy Butter, with 83 percent butterfat. Egg Farm Dairy in Peekskill, N.Y., and the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company in Websterville, Vt., make butter with 86 percent butterfat using methods that mirror Echire's.
Regarding the recipe, I recommend using 1 generous teaspoon of sel gris. Also, watch your baking time as the recipe calls for 30-35 minutes. Mine was done in just under 30 minutes.
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book, Around My French Table. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. Dorie always tells a personal story behind each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing.