for USA cookie:
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter or shortening
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more when kneading
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water, plus more if needed
1/4 cup melted butter
Olive oil or other vegetable oil, for greasing bowl
For the USA cookie, first draw an outline of the United States of America on a piece of parchment paper. Mine was roughly 12” in length. Set aside.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Scrape unto a clean floured counter and roll out into a shape of the US map that is slightly larger than what you drew out.
Place the parchment paper with the outline of the US over the dough and using a sharp knife, cut out the cookie.
Use a large knife or offset spatula to unstick the bottom of the cookie from the counter and transfer to a large parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or to desired level of doneness.
When cookie is cool, combine the egg white with 1 teaspoon of sugar and brush on the top of the cookie, then use a torch to lightly toast the eggwhite/sugar mixture until desired level of browning is achieved. Set aside.
For the handbasket, combine the sugar and water first in a small bowl, then add the yeast and wait ten minutes to bloom until frothy and bubbly.
Add the flour, salt, melted butter, and egg into a larger bowl. When yeast has bloomed in the water, add all the water to the flour mixture and stir to combine into a dough then knead the dough on a floured counter, adding more water if needed, or more flour, if needed. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic.
Roll into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat entire surface of dough ball.
Cover bowl with piece of plastic and leave undisturbed until doubled in size.
After about an hour, punch dough down and roll out into a 8” x 8” square on a floured counter and cut about 16 pieces of dough by cutting horizontally. Roll each strip out so that each strip is about 16 inches.
Select your choice of bowl or pan that you want to use as your handbasket and turn it upside down and grease the bottom of the pan or bowl. I used a 13” x 9” pan.
Lay strips horizontally on the bottom of the first, cutting excess of each strip as necessary and reserving it for later.
Weave vertical strips with the horizontal strips, also cutting any excess strips as needed and reserving for later or adding to any existing strips. You can use any remaining strips to outline the rim of the pan and connect all the existing strips together to make a basket. Create handles by placing two strips on opposite sides, if desired.
Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes or until desired level of brownness is achieved. Cool with pan or bowl in place, then turn right side up and carefully remove pan or bowl.