Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have the Cake Challenge: Shortbread

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This month Nancy, of the Crafty Pepper, challenged us to make shortbread.   Shortbread is said to have originated in Scotland (Scottish Shortbread) then moving on to the United Kingdom becoming known as English Shortbread.  Both recipes reportedly produce similar results: a not too sweet, buttery cookie.  
Nancy shared with us a recipe from joepastry.com.  I twisted the recipe just a little bit by adding some raw sugar on top and adding dried cranberries.... yummers!

Shortbread Recipe
adapted from joepastry.com

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of either corn starch or rice flour
2/3 cup extra fine sugar (also known as caster sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes  (do not use margarine!!!)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional for topping)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional for topping)
Preheat your oven to 425. Combine the flour(s), sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir on low to blend. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and add the cold butter. Beat 2-3 minutes until the butter is fully incorporated and a dough comes together. It will range in texture from crumbly to smooth depending on your flour and the ambient temperature.

Line a 9" cake layer pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper, laying in the dough, covering it with another round of waxed paper, and pressing down on it with a second layer pan. Refrigerate the dough 30 minutes to firm it. Loosen the edges of the dough with a short knife, peel off the top layer of waxed paper, and turn the round out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Peel off the second piece of waxed paper, top with cinnamon if desired.

Put the round into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 300. Bake 20 minutes, then remove the round from the oven. Insert a 2" round cutter in the very center of the round (this will be removed later). Score the shortbread with a sharp knife, like spokes on a wheel, into 16 pieces. Use a cake tester or wooden skewer to poke regular holes in the shortbread (the holes are part decorative, part functional, as they allow gas and steam to escape, keeping the shortbread dense).

Return the shortbread to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until only very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on raw sugar. Cool 10 minutes then remove the round cutter (saving the cookie at the center for yourself) and slice the shortbread along the scores into blunt pie-shaped pieces. Cool completely, a minimum of 3 hours.

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