So much has gone on since I last wrote here! As I’ve said many times before, when I am quiet it’s usually not because I have nothing to say. It’s because I have way too much to say, and I have a hard time finding out where to start. It would be remiss to not mention the turmoil going on in our world at the moment, I am quite worried about it. But I do think that we sometimes need a place to be away from the news and recharge ourselves. I’m going to make this that place, once again, for myself. Food is one of the great comforts of my life, and I turn to it over and over again.
I’ve been wanting to share this cookie recipe for a long time now. The recipe was generously give to me by a friend on Instagram, @dreamingitalian, whose lovely light-soaked photos I always find solace in. She emailed me the hand-written recipe that she culled from a family member. The recipe was for a very large batch, which I scaled down (four times!) to this more manageable size. The dough is like a soft Linzer Torte cookie dough, lightly sweet.
What I love most about these cookies is that they are at once homey and elegant. When I made them the first time, with a prune plum butter I made over the summer, my husband took a bite and was transported to a cookie his grandfather used to make. They are an old-fashioned cookie, full of love. And, my favorite thing: they use up a jar of jam, always a boon to a preserver with a cabinet full of preserves.
Jam Roll Cookies
Yields one large loaf, to be sliced up into about 20 biscotti shapes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 stick of butter, softened
1/3 cup of sugar
1 medium egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 cup of brandy (I used this homemade elixir)
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch to 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda
pinch of salt
8 ounces of jam
nuts, cinnamon, sugar (optional or up to you to mix up)
egg whites and sugar for a wash
You may use a food processor for this. I don’t have a stand mixer (gasp!) but I’m sure that would work, too. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and the liquids. Then the flour, baking soda and salt to form a soft dough. The original directions called for it to sit a few hours in the fridge, but having tried it both ways, I liked rolling out the dough after just a ten to fifteen minute rest in the fridge, wrapped in a bag or wax paper. Roll the dough into a large oval (closer to a rectangle than a circle, if that makes sense). Spread the jam all over, sprinkle with nuts or dried fruit. (I especially liked plum butter with walnuts and cinnamon and sugar, but it’s up to you and what you have.) Then you roll the dough up, folding it in thirds. One long side towards you, and then the other side on top of it, like how you might fold a piece of paper into thirds. I turned it over to bake on its seam, giving it several decorative (not deep) diagonal slices, then brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sugar.
Bake until golden brown, and firm to the touch. You will be able to smell it’s warm cookie dough smell. About 25 to 30 minutes. Once cooled on a rack, you can slice the loaf into a bunch of cookies, each about 1 to 2 inches thick.