I’ll be honest with you. I struggled with this one. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. On the contrary, you should because I have made most of the mistakes for you!
The finished Apricot Melt-O-Ways seemed overly yeasty to me. Initially, I thought that the measurement in the recipe was wrong, and it called for too much yeast. I checked with my Leiths Baking Bible and it recommends a ratio of 5g / 2 teaspoons dried active yeast for 225g of flour. So two and a quarter teaspoons for 435g seems entirely reasonable.
Or that I had gotten the wrong answer off “google” when I asked it “how much a packet of dried yeast is in the US”? Answer; 2 and 1/4 teaspoons.
In the end, I think the culprit was old yeast (the tin had been opened for over a year).
Then there was the geometry issue. I’m a veritable Rainman when it comes to arithmetic but when faced with geometry; my brain has 0 imagination. Walter said that I should roll out the dough into a rectangle, measuring 8 by 11 inches (20 by 28 cm) and then divide that into 12. To me that meant dividing the dough in half and then cutting out 6 strips on one side and 6 on the other – 12. With the resulting narrow rectangles, I couldn’t get the right shaped cookie, all I could manage were some wonky pinwheels.
I read the recipe a 7th time. 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) squares was what I was supposed to be getting. I became slightly obsessed after 4 trays of biscuits that looked nothing like the ones in the photograph so I took pen to paper and measured out a 6 cm square. Then I got it. She meant, 3 rows of 4 squares.
Like I said, no imagination when it comes to geometry.
Despite my baking trials and tribulations they came out well (but yeasty). They rank number two out of five with my husband the cookie monster. I would rank them at number 4.
I baked the Pfeffernüse the same day and will try to post that recipe out soon, as the Christmas clock is ticking!
Apricot melt-o-ways adapted from Carole Water Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets
(Makes about 60 cookies depending on how well you roll)
1 tablespoon sugar
125 ml milk, scalded and cooled to 40 C (just over blood temperature)
2 1/4 active dried yeast or 10g fresh yeast (if using fresh, milk should be 10 C cooler)
1/2 teaspoon salt
230g cold butter, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners sugar (left this in cups because it’s for rolling the dough out so you may need more or less)
1/2 a cup thick apricot preserves.
1. Stir the sugar into the warm milk, then sprinkle the yeast over the top. Cover with a saucer and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Place the flour and salt in magimix and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse five times, then process for 8 seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and is still a big shaggy. You can also do this by hand, rubbing the butter and the flour together between your fingertips.
3. Empty the mix into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
4. Stir the egg and vanilla into the milk. Pour the mixture into the well and, using a wooden spoon, work the liquid and dry ingredients together starting in the center and working outward (like you are making pancake batter). Complete the blending using your hands to knead four to five times, or until a smooth dough is formed.
5. Divide the dough into four parts, flatten, and shape into rectangles. Wrap each with cling film and chill for 1 hour up to 3 days.
6. Position the shelves to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Pre-heat to 175 C.
7. Sprinkle the counter and rolling pin with confectioner’s sugar. Working with one piece at a time, roll out a rectangle measuring 20 by 28 cm, trim, and cut into 3 columns of 4 squares (see picture above) so you have 12 pieces.
8. Drop 1 scant teaspoon of apricot filling into the center of each square. Do not overfill. Moisten the opposite ends with cold water, bring together and pinch to seal (really pinch or they will unravel). Place the cookies on the prepared pans and chill for 15 minutes.
9. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until just starting to brown (turn pans towards the end to ensure even baking).
10. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Will keep for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.