High Country Baking: Sandwiched shortbread
High Country Baking
Colored eggs are as much a part of Easter as the iconic Bunny. But what do you do with them when the celebration is over? You make pastries! Adding one or two hard-boiled egg yolks to almost any pastry recipe will boost its richness and make it more tender. Why? The bits of cooked yolk reduce the formation of gluten, which makes baked goods tough. You don’t have to alter the recipe, just add hard-boiled egg yolks to it. If you make the batter in a food processor, crumble a cooked, cooled yolk or two and pulse the small pieces into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a food processor, press the cooled, cooked egg yolks through a fine mesh sieve and blend them into the batter.
I added two cooked yolks to this Sandwiched Shortbread recipe, which has been a favorite of mine for years. It’s always been quite good but was made even more delicate and tender with the addition. The difference was significant. I’ve also been pleased with the results when I included cooked yolks in recipes for shortcake, biscuit, tart dough and other cookies.
Make in an 8-inch shiny metal springform pan
Recipe works at any elevation
- 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks, hard boiled (optional)
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick plus two tablespoons), cold
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
- A one inch or smaller heart cookie cutter
- Egg wash (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour and line it with plastic wrap, letting the wrap hang over opposing edges so you can use it as handles.
To make with a food processor: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse to combine well. Crumble/smash the cooked egg yolks into small pieces, add them and pulse to distribute them evenly in the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces, add them with the vanilla and process until large, moist clumps of dough form, stop before the dough makes a ball on top of the blade.
To make with a mixer or by hand: Cut the butter into pieces, place them in a mixing bowl and let them soften. Beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color. Push the cooked egg yolks through a mesh sieve into the bowl, cleaning the bottom of the sieve as needed. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the flour, stirring until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Knead gently until smooth, and divide it in half. Refrigerate one half and press the other half into the bottom of the plastic wrap-lined pan, leveling and smoothing it. Place the pan in the freezer or refrigerator until the dough is quite firm but not stiff. Using the plastic wrap handles, carefully lift the dough circle out of the pan, place it on a plate, and put it in the refrigerator (it will become the top of the sandwich). Press the remaining half of the dough into the pan bottom, smooth and level it. Stir the raspberry jam until smooth. Spread it to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the dough.
Remove the dough circle that will become the top from the refrigerator. Using a knife or a straight-edged ruler, gently score the dough (don’t cut through it) into eight equal-sized wedges. Use the cookie cutter to cut hearts out of four of them. Make sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of dough on all sides of the cut-out shape within each wedge or the dough may tear while baking. Refrigerate the cut-out hearts. If the dough circle has softened, chill it until firm. Use a large spatula to lift it and place it in the pan, on top of the filling. Place the heart cut-outs on the plain wedges and gently push them into the dough so they stick to it. Press the edges of the two dough rounds together with the tines of a fork to seal them. If using an egg wash, whisk an egg and a teaspoon of milk and brush lightly on the top. You won’t use it all.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the dough is set and lightly colored and the edges have darkened a bit. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely before cutting. Store in a cool place for up to 5 days.
Editor’s note: This recipe is inspired by one published in Shortbread by Jan Johnson.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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