By : Nicholas Yau
04 February 2016
During my childhood, the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year were far more memorable than the festive holidays. It was a time where old glass containers, originally used to store coffee powder, were given new life as vaults for cookies baked by my Grandma and Aunt. Every day they would make something different for the family, and over the years I developed far more than a craving for these confections. Food tastes better when you make it for your loved ones, yes?
That humble, plain white oven and treasured specialty machines were the gateway to handmade baked goods and binge-snacking during the holidays. Being a student with a lot of spare time, I helped out with the annual baking duties. In my grandparents’ home at Circuit Road, we made pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit, love letters and an assortment of savoury treats. But my favourite is a butter cookie with a tangy orange fragrance. One year, I even had to hide a personal jar!
Grandma’s recipe book went missing over the years, and with age, she has stopped baking altogether. So this year, I decided to adapt a popular recipe for German butter cookies to recreate that childhood joy.
Fortune Orange Cookies – somewhat like Grandma’s recipe
125g butter (about half a block)
40g icing sugar
80g plain flour
125g potato starch
Grated zest of one large orange
1. Prepare your ingredients: Measure the sugar, flour and potato starch. If your butter is frozen, leave it out on your kitchen counter for about 10 minutes. Grate the orange peel. You can save the orange for a snack later – great to eat while waiting for the cookies to bake.
2. Beat the butter until it becomes light and fluffy. If you are an aspiring baker who is still saving up for that cool mixing machine (like me), you could use two forks to ‘massage’ the butter until it becomes less of a frozen block.
3. Add in the icing sugar once the butter is softer, folding the mixture gently. At this stage you can start pre-heating your oven to 170°C.
4. Sift in the flour and potato starch into your mixing bowl. Continue to fold the mixture until the butter combines with the other ingredients. Then add in the orange zest.
5. You should not spend too much time here or mix it too thoroughly. If the butter melts to room temperature, your cookies will flatten when baked. To fix this, you can keep the mixture in the fridge to cool for 10 minutes and continue later. If your oven is not ready, you can also keep the dough in the fridge first.
6. Once the dough becomes heavy, shape it into 1.5 cm-wide balls and place them on parchment paper on a baking tray. Gently press down each of them with a fork – giving each cookie cute ridges.
7. Bake at 170°C for a maximum of 15 minutes. Check around the 12-minute mark to avoid browning the cookies.
While I still miss Grandma’s orange cookies, I enjoyed my own version of the cookie. The crumbly cookies melt in your mouth and can be easily adapted for other flavours too. What else do you think would work great?
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