Epic Shortbread Fail

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been struggling to express my half Scottishness through the making of shortbread.

It’s butter, sugar and flour: how can anyone screw that up?  And yet, I have managed to find way after way.

Yesterday I made one perfect batch.  So perfect that I got a little overconfident.  I thought that I had this shortbread thing figured out.  Now I know how to make shortbread, I can look back at my hilarious past mistakes and laugh.

So I set out to make another pan of shortbread today.

So maybe you were wondering what happens when you don’t measure the butter carefully enough and add too much of it to the shortbread dough.

THIS:

This was supposed to be shortbread, after I scraped it out of the pan

This was supposed to be shortbread, after I scraped it out of the pan

Apparently too much butter keeps everything from sticking together.

I wonder if my Croatian side is having a bit of revenge, after my arrogant claims of Scottishness permeating my being? Croatian me is saying, “Screw this baking shit. Go have a burek.”

Update:  I have discovered that mixing Epic Shortbread Fail into cherry yogurt results in something that tastes a lot like cherry pie.   Yum.

 

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Shortbread success at last

Today I made shortbread without burning it!  It was only a bit damaged when I loosened it from the pan with a knife.

Shortbread success at last!

Shortbread!

Shortbread!

It’s a good thing, too, because lately I have been wondering if being half-Scottish means I’m literally only half Scottish, like a hermaphrodite (in which case, which of my arms is Scottish?  Which of my legs?  etc.) or if Scottishness is sufficiently pungent to permeate my being even though it only came from one parent.

Since the final success of the shortbread, I’m leaning more towards the permeating-my-being theory.

The thistle design didn’t come out that crisply detailed, but I suspect this is because I put corn meal in to add texture and it made those coarse holes.  With rice flour I bet it would take the design better, but rice flour is hard to get here while corn meal couldn’t be easier.

Here’s my Shortbread recipe:

  • 150 grams butter, room temperature (I hacked off slightly more than half of a 250 gram brick)
  • 100 grams caster sugar (I used American measuring cups – 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 50 grams ( 1/4 cup) corn meal or rice flour
  • 250 grams (1 cup) flour

Cream the caster sugar and salt into the butter.  Slowly add the corn flour while mixing with a spoon and then the flour, slowly, mix and mix until it goes through the stage of looking like crumbly pie crust and starts to stick together.   The corn meal or rice flour and the salt are optional but make a big difference to texture and flavor.

You can chill it before you press it into the mold.  Some say this makes the design come out better.

If you haven’t used the pan before, OIL IT!  Or the shortbread will stick.

Glob it into the pan and hammer it down with your hands as firm as you can for the best design.  When it’s smooth and even, prick it all over with a fork then bake in a 150 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I had to use the bottom rack to keep the top from overbrowning.

Remove the pan from the oven, let cool 3-5 minutes, then loosen the sides with a knife and turn out the pan over a cutting board.  If the shortbread doesn’t pop out, tap it firmly against the side of the board.  Cut into wedges with a big sharp knife while still warm.

Tastes even better the next day.

Makes 8 wedges.

Shortbread woes

Today I made some shortbread, ruining it in the process.

Stuck to the pan when I tried to turn it out.

Stuck to the pan when I tried to turn it out.

What happened? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s undercooked. I took it out of the oven early, because the top of it was getting brown and I was afraid of burning it, like I did last time.

Looking a bit brown there

Looking a bit brown there

I used a lower oven temp than last time, 150 C instead of 180, but that didn’t stop the top from overbrowning.

The recipe said put it in on a rack in the middle of the oven, so I did, but maybe I should put it nearer the bottom, or cover it with some foil while it’s baking. Looking at the other side, it’s clear that the exposed side is getting too dark while the side covered by the pan isn’t cooked all the way through.

It cut up into pieces OK and it tastes OK, even if slightly undercooked, it just LOOKS bad.

Who knew there were so many ways to ruin shortbread?
And what kind of a (half) Scot am I if I can’t even make a decent pan of shortbread?

I really should be painting, anyway.

Sunday Scottish reading

Beautiful Scottish shortbread.  Source

Beautiful Scottish shortbread. Source

If you’ve followed me on Twitter you’ll know I support Scottish independence.  I for one have had it with Scots people being treated like second-class citizens, discriminated against for their origin and their accents.

I’m not interested in giving a platform to Unionists on my blog.  Why should I, when they have the whole UK mainstream media on their side, clamoring about how everyone’s Bitter Together?  There are people who actually believe the Scottish Clearances were a humanitarian effort, too, but that doesn’t make it true.

Britain is busy dismantling the NHS, slashing benefits,  and otherwise running the UK into the ground;  Scotland’s best chance is to jump that sinking ship and strike out on its own.

Go read this link.  It has stories about Scottish independence and is free to read.

Yes Scotland has a website here.

The recipe for this beautiful Scottish shortbread pictured above, plus the thistle-patterned pan used to make it, can be found here.  Enjoy.