Not Your Average Shortbread

Ever since I bought the Baking with Julia book many years ago, I have been eying this recipe for Hungarian shortbread, but I have never made it.  The photos are really enticing.  There’s this jewel-like layer of jam sandwiched between two shortbread layers and it is all showered with a generous coating of powdered sugar.  I have been longing for this shortbread.  So, why have I waited 12 years to make it?  I’ll tell you why.

A pound of butter.  The recipe calls for a pound of butter and makes just one 9 by 12 inch pan of shortbread.  For some reason, that just seemed like an awful lot of butter, even for me, and I do not normally shy away from butter content at all.  In fact, I have been known to go through multiple pounds of butter in a day, but I do a lot of bulk baking and I freeze a lot for future events.

Anyway, excuses aside, I was excited to finally try this recipe because I thought it would be really good.  I mean, can you go wrong with a pound of butter, some flour, egg yolks, and jam?  Also, I was interested in its unusual method of freezing the cookie dough and then grating it into the pan.  Getting the dough together and shaped into tubes that would fit in my food processor was easy enough.

With the food processor, grating was really easy and just took a few seconds.  I wanted two different flavors, so I used two eight inch pans.  The grated dough looks a lot like grated cheese.  After I spread out the bottom layer, I baked the bottoms for 15 minutes first.

After the bottom baked for a bit, I took them out and spread jam on top.  I used jams I made last year: one was a rhubarb jam with candied ginger and the other was a raspberry blueberry jam.  I wanted to stay faithful to the recipe, but, honestly, not everyone likes rhubarb.  My husband and I love it, but my kids, not so much.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be too bothered by this, but we are talking about a pound of butter here and I didn’t think it wise that the husband and I should be “stuck” with the whole pan.   This way, most people would be happy and I wouldn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Anyway, the shortbread looked and smelled delicious coming out of the oven.  I think I tried to pull out one of them a little early.  That is why one of them appears cracked.  I pushed it back together and had no issues with it.  The bars stayed together just fine.

This time, I planned ahead a little and made sure to make this on a day when a good friend was coming over for a chinwag.  It was great.  Finally, after all these great recipes, I was able to have a little tea party.  These were perfect with tea.  They were a little crunchy, but then they melted in your mouth.  The rhubarb jam was a great, tart contrast and the berry was very yummy as well. All the kids chose berry and they were inhaled at a record pace.  I think the grating of the dough really made this a fluffy shortbread, not the dense, crunchy kind you normally think of when you hear the word shortbread.

The rhubarb version is in the foreground and the berry is in the back.  We had a great time chatting and I was happy to discover that my dear friend loves rhubarb!  Now, clearly, we did not eat them all.  I sent some home with her, but still had over two dozen left, so I took them with me to a workshop over the weekend.  When it was over, the tin was empty.  Everyone loved them.  The husband even said that they were the best shortbread he has ever had.  And now, I’m a little sad that we don’t have any left over.  I think I may have to make some more.

Now that I think about it, a pound of butter is not so bad.  I got 32 servings from my two pans, which makes it about one tablespoon of butter per bar.  That’s better than a piece of pie.  I have a lot more jam in the cupboard.  I wonder what I should try next?  Fig citrus?  Cherry grapefruit?  Apricot butter?  Strawberry Peach?

You can try these yourself.  I highly recommend the food processor for grating–I can only imagine the mess when doing it by hand.  The recipe is posted here and here.

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Posted on May 1, 2012, in Baking, tea, Tuesdays with Dorie and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Wow! That blueberry/raspberry jam sounds amazing! This was my first foray into “jam-making” and I thought it went pretty well. I threw some strawberries in with the rhubarb just for funsies. Thanks for mentioning that the grating probably made it fluffy instead of dense. I didn’t really think of that and was just kind of cursing and complaining while I grated by hand because it was kind of a pain – but now that I understand the reason I guess it was worth it. 🙂

  2. Hi, the butter! that’s always the problem!
    I’ve reduced mine by 1/3 adding yoghurt and it was perfect.
    Your shortbread looks delicious and the fact that we can use any jam or preserve we wish, makes it a winner!

  3. I really thought the grating part was odd. Grate dough?! I didn’t even think about using my food processor. Good thinking! The process would have gone much faster if I had. These look great!

  4. Oh my! Well, there’s only one thing I love more than knitting and that is…butter!

  5. I vote cherry grapefruit! That sounds delicious! Love that you made a couple different kinds and ours seemed to just disappear as well. Yum!

  6. thekitchenlioness

    What absolutely lovely pictures – I am sure that the two different versions with the homemade jams – rhubarb/candied ginger and blueberry/raspberry – were just terrific, sure sounds like everyone enjoyed them a lot. And your serving dishes have just such a pretty pattern. Great post!

  7. Wow, they look amazing! I love your last picture, great lighting too! I can’t believe I spaced out thinking it was NEXT Tuesday! I’d better get on it!

  8. I love how you justify the pound of butter – divided into 32 pieces! Brilliant. When you think of it as less than a piece of pie, it is so much better! I am so enticed by your home made jams. I need to learn more about doing that!

  9. I love how you justified the pound of butter! Break it into tiny servings and it is better than a piece of pie? Brilliant. You have enticed me into learning more about making jam. I gotta get into that!

  10. Your bars are beautiful. All your jars of different jams sound delectable!

  11. tomatothymes

    Thanks for visiting my blog and your photos are delicious.

    Lisa

  12. I hand grated my dough, and it wasn’t that bad. I also halved the recipe, so the grating didn’t take as long. Great post!

  13. The raspberry blueberry jam sounds delicious! You are quite the canner! I do agree that a pound of butter seemed excessive. But it turned out all right!

  14. Grating the dough with the food processor is a great idea. I found that when grating by hand, the part that I was holding thawed before I got to grating it, so I refroze it. The rhubarb ginger jam sounds wonderful, and your shortbreads are beautiful. I like the double flavors and colors.

  15. I love your math regarding the butter!! 🙂 These did turn out well and I really enjoyed grating the dough even though I though it sounded strange. Your pictures of your finished bars are just beautiful!

  16. Love your post…you make jam…how cool is that! I like the depth of field on your second to last photo. You bars look enticing!

    ~Carmen
    http://bakingismyzen.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/twd-baking-with-julia-hungarian-shortbread-with-homemade-strawberry-jam/

  17. Your bars look so inviting and so great to share them with friend!!

  18. Your shortbread looks gorgeous, and the sound of rhubarb ginger jam makes me feel like singing.

  19. Wow, all those filling combinations you suggested are giving me a sweet tooth 🙂
    Great job and thanks for baking along this week!

  20. A tablespoon per bar. That’s the way to think about it! That’s like butter on toast! Yeah…Thanks for making me feel better about scarfing mine down! 😛

  21. I love your filling choices – rhubarb and ginger sounds especially delicious.

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