“Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs”
Don’t these look like graham crackers? But in fact, this is Brown Sugar Shortbread, and you’ll find the recipe with my comments about it below. I chose this recipe from Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs because it’s probably the simplest in the book, and according to my tasters, it makes a very good shortbread indeed.
I remember when I bought this book, swooning over its beautiful pictures, especially the ones for Dark German Chocolate Cake with Toasted Almond-Coconut Goo, and Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie. Both of these recipes feature restaurant-style deconstructed versions of the familiar classics, an idea that I found immensely appealing. In fact most of the recipes are restaurant desserts, and thus are a bit fussy to prepare at home, but if you are a dessert person who entertains a lot, this might be your book.
The title describes the layout of the book, which I personally find annoying. It’s divided into chapters based on ingredients, and some, like Citrus, Chocolate, or Nuts, make sense from an organizational standpoint. Others, like Butter, Sugar, Flour, or Eggs, seem nonsensical to me, as well as arbitrary. Why should Millionaire’s Shortbread be classified under Butter, while Brown Sugar Shortbread is found in the Sugar section? Since most desserts contain at least two of these basic ingredients, it’s a design artifice that doesn’t appeal to me, but the recipes still look good. I say look, because I’ve made very few of them. It’s the kind of book that I’ve looked through many times for inspiration, but seldom baked from.
And so, one of you may have it, with my blessings. But all of you may have the recipe for this shortbread, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I’m taking some liberties with the directions here, because as written they seemed unnecessarily difficult. This is my slight adaptation.
Brown Sugar Shortbread
8 oz unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 T cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 T granulated sugar
Heat the oven to 350°. The recipe has you line a 10×14 1/2″ pan (a size that doesn’t exist in my kitchen) with parchment paper. If you have a Silpat, I think that’s a MUCH easier alternative.
Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until soft and smooth. Add the brown sugar and mix until blended. I had to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides multiple times during this step, so have your silicone spatula ready.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cinnamon, and cornstarch. I think this recipe probably warrants a pinch of salt, but since I didn’t taste it, I can’t guarantee that. Use your own judgement. With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the dry mixture until it’s all incorporated.
Turn the dough a few times in the bowl with floured hands until it all comes together. The recipe wants you to flour a work surface and do it there, but I say ixnay to that.
Now, if you like following directions, you’ll use that same floured work surface to roll out the dough to the size of your pan, then transfer it to said pan. But hey, the dough is fragile, and that’s going to be a really thin sheet of dough to move around. So I suggest that you do as I did and roll the dough out directly on a very lightly floured Silpat. If you roll it all the way to the edges, your cookies will be as thin as the ones I show above, which I think is really too thin, so feel free to roll it only to the thickness of cookie you desire. It’s not going to rise one bit, so get it the way you want it from the start.
Transfer the Silpat (or your dough) to the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork to keep it from buckling as it bakes. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the pan, smacking it once against the oven rack to help it stay flat, then bake it another 10-15 minutes until lightly brown. Actually, in my oven, the additional 10 minutes was a bit too long, 8 would have been better. I suggest that you start watching it after 5 minutes, unless you’re going for the true graham cracker look, in which case 10 minutes is perfect. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the surface with the granulated sugar. Let cool, and store in an airtight container.
If you’re ready to bake some cute little desserts, just leave a comment saying so. If several people would like this book, I’ll put your names in a mixing bowl, give them a good stir, and draw one. I’ll send it to you and I’ll ask you to pay for the postage, if you can, via PayPal. For security and anti-spam reasons, please don’t put your email address or snail mail address in the Comments section. When you comment I see your email address and I’ll contact you soon if I draw your name. Give this book a good home, make something delicious from it, and I’ll be happy.
News From The Mixing Bowl – We Have a Winner! The winner of the absolutely fair and random name-drawing for The Cooking of Malaysia is heidih. I’ll be contacting you for shipping information, and my thanks to the rest of you for entering.