- Servings: 32
1/4 cup room temperature water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar (I tried both regular and coarse sugar, and they each worked nicely)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pour the water in a medium bowl, and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the yeast to soften and bloom.
In a large bowl or food processor, whisk or pulse together the flour and salt. Cut or pulse in the butter until particles are the size of peas (don't overwork!). If using the food processor, dump into a bowl at this point.
Whisk the eggs, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla into the yeast mixture until well combined. Pour this liquid into the flour mixture, and using your hands or a wooden spoon (and then your hands) mix until the flour has been moistened and the mixture forms a cohesive dough (you still want to see smears of butter — the mixture will be rolled out many times, so no need to overwork). Form the mixture into two equal portions, and cover the bowl (or transfer to a bag), and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours (and up to four days).
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and line two cookie sheets with parchment. In a small bowl, combine sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, stirring well to combine.
On a clean counter top, sprinkle 1/2 of the vanilla sugar mixture. Take half the dough, place it on the vanilla sugar, and press it down. Flip the dough over, then roll out to a 16-inch x 8-inch rectangle (if needed, flip it again, or sprinkle sugar from the counter onto the top to keep the dough from sticking. Fold the sides into the center, like an envelope. Rotate 90º, and roll and fold again. Fold and rotate a third time, and roll out a final time into the 16-inch x 8-inch rectangle. All of the sugar should have been worked into the dough during this process.
Trim the edges of the rectangle, to neaten off the ends (and reveal the layers in the folds). Cut the rectangle through the middle, to form two 4-inch high rectangles, and then cut each one into 4-inch x 1-inch strips. Take each strip, twist twice, and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet, with a bit of space between them. You may need to press the ends of the cookies down to the sheet a bit to keep the fold (I found it easiest to shape the cookies, place them on the sheet, then then flip them all after I finished shaping the last one — maybe this is unnecessary, but it seemed to help them keep their shape).
Bake 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer immediately to a rack (before the caramelized sugar solders them to the sheet, or they darken too much. Repeat the entire process with the remaining dough.
These cookies are best within a day or so — they're nice and crisp on the edges as soon as they cool from the oven, then soften a bit but are still delicious. If you want to keep them more than a few days, I'd recommend freezing them.