Food: The Anna Edit’s ‘Levain-Style’ Cookies

*All credit for this recipe goes to The Anna Edit*

As someone who enjoys dabbling in the world of baking, I am always on the lookout for quick, simple recipes that have a minimal flop rate and an overwhelming approval rate amoungst taste testers. Baking can be a pretty finicky process to master and so, if there’s a cheats version to a delicious treat that I know will turn out looking like I spent hours in the kitchen, I’m there for it 100%. And that’s exactly what this recipe is – thank you Anna!

There is not a living soul on this earth that doesn’t find some comfort in the smell of fresh cookies baking in the oven appealing on some level. It’s said that people are even more inclined to purchase a house if, on show day, there is an aroma of cookies wafting throughout the rooms. They are always a hit at the often dreaded school bake sale, and I find them to be particularly handy gifts for housewarmings, Christmases and special holidays. So I think it’s safe to say that the perfect cookie recipe is something we should all have tucked under our sleeves, ready to be put to good use when needed.

I’ve been an avid follower of Anna’s blog, YouTube videos and Instagram for many, many years and she always shares the most wholesome, easy to follow and simply delicious recipes across her social media platforms. A particular food journey that I paid close attention to was Anna’s recent quest to find the perfect cookie recipe and, as I do love a good spot of baking, I was excited to see where she ended up. Her final recipe and blog post contained some super helpful hints that I’d never considered before, but they do make all the difference.

The helpful guidance on the length of time to cream the butter and sugar was a revelation – the longer the better. I pushed mine to 7 minutes and was pleasantly surprised that the butter didn’t curdle (it was a real fear). Replacing baking paper with tinfoil does indeed yield a crispier bottom on the cookies, and paying super close attention to oven timings is crucial, but once you’ve got it nailed for your particular oven, it’s a breeze. I work with a notoriously hot oven with a fan strong setting, so I had to adjust my heat to 180 degrees, and my timing to 8 mins on the one side and 5 mins on the other, to avoid the cookies from colouring too quickly. I also replaced the light brown muscovado sugar with demerrera sugar because that’s what I had in my store cupboard at the time. Lastly, instead of using the 360g of milk chocolate Anna has in her recipe, I wanted to even it out with a mix of dark and milk chocolate so that the sugar hit wasn’t all that overwhelming – it turned out just great but next time I’ll up the dark chocolate ante for a good hit of bitterness.

What I really love most about this recipe is just how versatile it can be. I’m looking at making a festive version just in time for Christmas – adding in some dried cranberries and white chocolate – or even a “healthier” muesli version with some rolled oats, raisins and chopped almonds. Whatever you fancy, these cookies pack a punch on all scales! You can head over to The Anna Edit for her recipe details and more handy tips. Here is my version with adjustments made to my taste and store cupboard stocks:

What you’ll need: 360 grams self raising flour; 2 large eggs (my preference is free range); 225 grams salted butter (I always use salted butter in my baking as I try to avoid things getting too sweet); 200 grams demerrera sugar; 100 grams golden caster sugar; 1 tsp cornflour; 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda; 300 grams milk chocolate; 100 grams dark chocolate.

What to you’ll do: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius, fan assisted (gas mark 4; 365 degrees Fahrenheit). In a large mixing bowl add in the butter and both the golden caster sugar and demerrera sugar. Using an electric whisk (you’ll need one of these trust me), cream the butter and sugar for a minimum of 7 minutes; the longer the better here so you could even go for 10 minutes of you’re feeling patient. Pause halfway through to give the sides of your bowl a good scrape down with a metal spoon or spatula. Once creamed, the mixture should be light when you move a spoon through it, and pale gold in colour.

Now it’s time to add the eggs – one at a time, combining each one before adding the next. Once well mixed you can add the flour, cornflour and bicarbonate of soda. To avoid any pockets of flour forming I find it’s always best to sift the dry ingredients into the butter, sugar and egg mixture. It’s important that the dough is not over-mixed here, so you can use an electric whisk on the lowest speed for half a minute – just until the dough comes together. Add in your chocolate and give it a mix until your dough is pebbled with chocolate chunks.

It’s spooning time – these cookies require them to be deposited into mounds on the baking tray. Under no circumstances must you be tempted to flatten them in anyway. The raising agents in the flour together with the added bicarbonate of soda mean we’re looking for these babies to puff up. An ice ream scoop here is your best friend – I used the traditional deep ice cream scoop with the added benefit of the mechanical handle, which allows for an easier depositing. If you don’t have one of these handy little gadgets, I’d suggest a large table spoon or, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, them go right ahead! My batch made between 10 – 12 mounds of cookie deliciousness. Once you’ve got your cookie mounds, it’s time to pop them in the freezer.

It’s recommended to freeze overnight if possible but I’ve yet to discover such patience. I froze mine for about 45 min to an hour in a deep freezer before popping them into my preheated oven. On a baking tray lined with tin foil, spray some type of oil spray lightly, just to avoid any sticking – I used Cook n’ Bake but any type of baking spray will do. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 8 mins before swivelling the tray around and baking for a further 4 mins. Add another two minutes here if you prefer your cookies to be crisp all the way through.

Let your cookies cool on a baking rack for at least 10 min before digging in! This is another key point – your cookies may seem slightly under done but this cooling time allows them to firm up slightly on the outside while in the side remains soft and chewy – and the chocolate is the perfect melted consistency. Enjoy with a good cup of tea, or whatever beverage you fancy.

If you’re looking to store these yummy treats, ensure you keep them in an airtight container. They also reheat wonderfully – just pop them in a slightly warmed oven on a baking tray for about 3 – 5 minutes – you’re looking for the chocolate to have just melted and the cookie to be warmed through. Alternatively, the cookie dough freezes fantastically, and can be popped into the oven factoring in an extra minute or two on the cooking timing.

Thanks again Anna for the inspiration and recipe guidelines! If you make these be sure to leave a comment and let me know how they turned out. Also, feel free to make any variations to the cookie fillings and let us know how they work out – Happy Baking Everyone!

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