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    Kourambiethes Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Kourambiethes (Greek Biscuits) 'The Baking Bible'

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    Aristotle wore an icing sugar moustache. 

    With a portly build and chubby hands, I was trying not to stare at the child sized more like a four year old than the eighteen month year old his parents professed him to be. That's how it began, my first after school job babysitting Aristotle in the back of the Greek delicatessen. 

    It was pre Christmas rush, time for freshly baked Kourambiethes. Trays of snowy white crescents and clove dotted balls drifted past, aromas of spiced oranges and roses trailing in the air... then again, it could have been Aristotle's breath!

    Today's bake from 'The Baking Bible' is Kourambiethes (Greek biscuits/cookies), a light shorbread usually made with the Greek brandy Metaxa in the recipe (orange juice if going alcohol free), with or without nuts these are always delicious and never more so than Rose's recipe that uses whipped clarified butter.  

    The recipe starts with clarifying the butter. Lots of butter!!

    Cubed butter is melted.

    Foam can be skimmed off the top of melted butter as your going if desired, using a spoon or a small slotted spoon being careful not to remove too much of the butter.

    Butter is strained through the muslin to remove all milk solids. 

    Chilled clarified butter is unmoulded ready to be chopped, transferred to a mixing bowl with icing sugar.

    My butter weight was short, perhaps due the ummm, zillion (or at least six) folds I made in the muslin. I had to melt more butter to strain to make up weight. I used food safe muslin, using food safe muslin rather than fabric from a fabric store ensures no chemicals unsafe for human consumption are used.

    Oh, better toast the almonds... these are what Australian's call slivered almonds this may differ in other countries, but it's what I toasted and then chopped.

    toasted chopped almonds

    Ten minutes mixing and you have a white fluffy butter mixture, egg yolks, brandy, vanilla are added before the chopped toasted almonds are mixed in and finally the flour and baking powder.

    After chilling the biscuit mixture is shaped into balls (I made the traditional crescent shapes too).

    Often garnished with a whole clove, you see these cookies at Christmas time and Pascha (Greek Easter), though I have had them at Greek Weddings too. 

    Keeping with tradition, I added a whole clove to the center of the round cookies. Despite the "tooth ache drops" smell when you open your cloves pack it won't taste like that once baked, what you get is a lovely touch of spice and a gentle spice aroma. 

    Wish you could taste these, the texture is so light and airy! Don't forget to remove your clove :)

    Would I bake again? Yes, love the light airy texture the clarified butter brings.

    Would I change anything? Yes, I like stronger flavours so I would add either rose water, orange water and orange zest. Salt... I'd add salt, all a bit sweet. Spices; would be nice with nutmeg, cardamom or experiment with teas and coffee. Break with tradition and change the nuts, have a peanut Greek biscuit, pipe on chocolate or perhaps top warm pistachio biscuits with freeze dried cherry dust. 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You never know when you will need to make a fondant toe... a Cinderella stepsister toe cupcake

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    Reader Comments (9)

    I like how you made them small. I found mine too big at 25g. Next time i should make 15g each. Oh..your clarified butter so smooth and nice and pretty looking! The boomerang shaped cookies also looked good! Talking about boomerang, I haven't seen anyone played with this now..have you?

    July 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfaithy

    LOL you are funny… what?? We had boomerangs as kids… loved them, I've been hit in the face with one does that count? I thought I did mine the same weight as yours… cookies I'm talking now… but remembered now I did 20 grams… next time I will do 15 grams :)

    July 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    Oh I didn't realize that was a clove in the top ... I thought you were making it look like a blueberry lol. My cheesecloth certainly didn't do the job of your muslin! Must get some. Made mine 31g and will do 20g next time. Too messy and just too much cookie at once I think although I have been eating too many!!
    Wish you well on doctor day.

    July 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

    I thought maybe the muslin was over kill and strained too much… not sure. It is a lot of cookie at once … yet because the cookies are so light they don't taste "fattening" … or least I told myself that as I ate a second. Another doctor day next week… blah, get tired of having to go. I have digital of copies of 'The Baking Bible' and 'The Bread Bible' on my phone for a waiting room activity at least :)

    July 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    Aristotle and an icing sugar moustache - gorgeous story! I wonder where he is now?

    I like the look of your biscuits in traditional shapes. A few spices would be nice although an explosive mouthful of almond butter is pretty good.

    July 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

    A clove in the centre of the cookie? Very cool. There is so much tradition around this cookie. Aristotle. Fun story. Great post.

    July 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKimberlie Robert

    I wouldn't be surprised if Aristotle still had an icing sugar moustache Catherine :D I do like stronger flavours but appreciate the "explosive mouthful of almond butter" too :D

    Thanks Kimberlie :D some say the clove represents the coming of the three wise men but I couldn't find an origin/confirmation to that story.

    July 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    This reminds me of an other biscuit /cookie that I found out about in a Greek American Cookbook where the dough was shaped like a pear and the clove was stuck in the end to resemble the stem. Then they all got a wash with simple syrup. Thanks for sharing your work!

    May 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDoris Ruth

    Hi Doris, that sounds lovely the pear shape and wash with simple syrup… pear shape is so pretty for Christmas and celebrations too.

    June 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

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