Milano cookies12:58 PM
It's that time of the year again! And true to tradition, I am baking batches of Swiss Christmas cookies. Mailaenderli are that big Classic in my homeland, everybody loves them, for their rich buttery and zesty taste and their warm golden hue. They instantly bring back childhood memories of eating the raw dough, and the smell of them baking spreading to the whole apartment.
They also stand for simplicity, they are made with only 5 ingredients, and the dough can be made well in advance and kept in the freezer until one is ready to bake. And you don't need any mad cooking skills whatsoever to pull them off...none!
You don't even need that much space to make them...look at my kitchen above, I have been baking them for years in my small Microwave/convection oven (using the convection mode that goes without saying). I have a knack at having one tray baking in the oven while the other is getting filled with the next batch.
To make the dough you will need :
250g of salted butter (if you are using unsalted one, add a pinch of salt to the recipe)
225g of caster sugar
3 large eggs
the zest of two Indian lemons (or the zest of one regular sized lemon if you live in Europe and US)
600g of plain white flour (maida)
Just before backing, for the egg wash :
2-3 egg yolks
1) Leave the butter at room temperature for a little while, so that you can beat it to a cream more easily. You can do that with a fork, or an electric whip if you have one (if you bake often...buy one, they are cheap and a real time saver)
2) Add the sugar and eggs to the butter and mix well to combine. Grate the lemon zest and mix well again.
3) Sift in the flour and knead to a dough. You should end up with a very soft dough that is greasy, but not sticky, it should stay in one ball, not get stuck to your finger. At this point, you may need to add a little more flour to get the desired consistency.
4) Wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge for an hour. At this point you can also just shove it in the freezer where it can stay until you have the time to bake, it keeps well in the freezer for a few months.
Once you are ready to bake, take your dough out of the fridge or freezer, and let it become soft again. Preheat your oven to 200 C and line two oven proof trays with baking parchment. Get your egg yolks ready in a small bowl.
Roll down your dough to a thickness of about 5mm and start cutting shapes out with cookie cutters of your choice and place them on one of the baking tray
Once a tray is filled, brush the cookies with egg yolk using a pastry brush (or a teaspoon if you don't have one, it works fine too). Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the egg wash has a nice golden hue.
While one batch of cookie is baking, continue filling the other tray, chances are you'll have that second one ready just when it will be time to get the first batch out of the oven.
Transfer the hot cookies straight to a cooling rack using a spatula or the pliers used to flip chapati rolls, and continue shaping cookies using the now empty tray to process the next batch...keep on going until you run out of dough. This is that easy!
Once all your cookies have cooled down, transfer them to an airtight container or a cookie tin.