Sunday, August 11, 2013

Buttery Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Shortbread

Buttery Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Shortbread - made August 5, 2013 from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans
I'm on my endless quest to try out the recipes from my baking books, especially ones I've had for awhile and have been meaning to try.  I had a day off last week so it seemed like a good time to knock out some recipe experiments.  Starting with this shortbread recipe.

As with most shortbreads, this was easy to throw together; the hardest part about making shortbread isn't mixing it up but baking it properly.  Take it out too soon and it won't be baked enough to have the "snap" of good shortbread and will be chewy instead.  Leave it in too long and it'll be too crispy and have a slight burnt butter taste.  This was my first time making this recipe and I baked it for exactly 25 minutes as the recipe directed.  Normally I'm never not that precise but I happened to notice I put it in at 35 minutes past the hour so I remembered to take it out at the top of the hour.  Although it was nicely golden brown when I took it out and appeared done, when it cooled, it was more chewy than crisp so it could've used a little more time in the oven.  
I thought this was pretty good although just a trifle too sweet for me.  But the oatmeal gives it a nice chewiness and the butter flavor came through loud and clear. At work, when I put something out in the communal kitchen, I gauge how well my coworkers liked something by how quickly it goes and whether anyone comments on it.  My theory is if it isn't very good, it'll last throughout the day (no one takes seconds) and they'll be too polite to say anything about it.  For this shortbread, it was gone by lunchtime and I got a thank you email and 2 stops in the hallway to tell me how good it was.  By that measure, I guess people liked it.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) soft unsalted butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
¾ cup oatmeal, not quick-cooking
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Butter a 9 x 9 x 2-inch or 11 x 7 x 2-inch pan.
  2. Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon together onto a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Put the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute until the mixture looks smooth.  Stop the mixer and scrape the mixture from the sides of the bowl and any that becomes caught in the beaters as needed throughout the mixing process.  Decrease the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough holds together and forms big clumps.  Add the oatmeal, mixing just to distribute it evenly.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and immediately use a small sharp knife to cut 6 rows lengthwise and 4 rows across, cutting through to the bottom.  Cool thoroughly.  The shortbread will become crisp on the outside and remain slightly soft on the inside when cool.  Use a thin spatula to lift the shortbread pieces from the pan.

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