By 1 AM on any given day of the week, most New Yorkers are sound asleep. But for our head baker Yaya Doumbia, the day has only just begun. Click through for more about a day in the life of Yaya AND his famous shortbread cookie recipe.
As head baker at FreshDirect, Yaya starts his shift just after midnight by printing out the day’s orders and overseeing the various workstations responsible for mixing and cutting the day’s dough. Everything is meticulously executed because as Yaya will tell you, “Precision is everything.” Every three hours and fifteen minutes exactly, a new crew steps in to carry out the next stage of preparing the following batch of dough, giving the earlier crews a much-needed break.
Yaya spends the rest of his early morning shift inspecting the different doughs his crews have made. Some, like the brioche rolls, will be fully baked so customers can savor every inch of their buttery goodness. Others will be baked until just before they’re done and then frozen to lock in the moisture and flavor. This way customers can experience the joy (and smell!) of freshly baked bread. For Yaya, there is nothing better than a happy customer who truly appreciates the fruits of his labor, so he makes sure to inspect every single order personally before anything is sent out.
By the time the rest of New York is beginning to stir, Yaya’s work comes to a close as the bakery is now full of perfectly kneaded dough and fresh, warm, crusty breads that are ready for customers to enjoy. It’s still very early in the day, so Yaya has time to get home and see his daughter off to school. And if there’s any extra time, perhaps they’ll bake something delicious together. Yaya shared this recipe
Yaya’s Shortbread Cookies
Yields: 35-45 cookies
Butter, unsalted 4 sticks + 4 tablespoons
Granulated sugar 2/3 cup
Rice flour ¼ cup + 1 TBSP
All-purpose flour 2 ¾ cups + extra for dusting
Sea salt 2/3 tsp
Egg yolks 2
Vanilla extract 1 TBSP
Eggs, whisked 3
Sugar in the raw 1/3 cup
What to Do:
1) In a mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
2) In a separate bowl, mix rice flour, all-purpose flour, and sea salt. Gradually add half of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, mixing on first speed just until incorporated.
3) Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on first speed until just incorporated. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract, continuing to mix just until incorporated.
4) Remove dough from mixer and roll on a lightly floured surface into an even log shape. Pour the whisked eggs into a baking dish long enough to fit the log of dough. Roll dough in the whisked eggs until evenly coated.
5) Pour sugar in the raw onto a baking sheet and roll the dough into the sugar until evenly coated all around. Cut the dough into ¼-inch thick slices and place on a parchment lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
6) Bake cookies at 325° F for about 10 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for another 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
An Extra Tip from Yaya: Shortbread dough can be rolled in colored sanding sugar to create a colorful effect!