Wedgy Oaty Shortbread

Buttery, oaty shortbread worth giving up the oven for an hour and a half.

Wedgy Oaty Shortbread

Makes: 16 wedges + 1 round shortbreads
Takes: 15 prep + 15-20 baking + 1 hour cooling in oven

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (2.67 oz) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1oz) cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 14 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut in small pieces)

Instructions

  1. Put the rack in the middle and pre-heat to 450 deg F.
  2. Put the oats in a spice grinder, blender, or coffee grinder and grind until you get oat flour.  1/2 cup oats should give 1/4 – 1/3 cup oat flour, if you want to just buy oat flour instead.
  3. Mix the oat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt A stand mixer is convenient for this; use the paddle, not the whisk.
  4. Add the butter and mix until the dough just forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  That’ll take 5-10 minutes because it’s cold butter and stuff. You could probably do at least part of this with a pastry cutter if you really really had to.
  5. Make your life easier by putting parchment paper or silpat down on the baking sheet first.  Then put an upside down 9″ springform pan (no bottom, closed latch) on top of that and press the dough into the springform pan.
  6. Make sure it’s all nice and smooth, then cut out a 2″ circle from the middle (a biscuit cutter is convenient, but whatever you got).  Stick that circle on the paper outside the springform pan, don’t let it go to waste!
  7. Open the latch on the springform pan, but don’t take it off yet.
  8. Bake the shortbread for 5 minutes (at 450deg F), then drop the temperature to 250 deg F. Leave the door shut while you do that!
  9. Bake it until edges turn pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  10. Pull it out and take the springform pan off. Be careful, it’s hot!
  11. Turn the oven off.
  12. Using a sharp knife (chef knife good), cut 16 wedges about 1/2 way through the shortbread.  Use a skewer to poke some holes in each wedge to speed drying (and look fancy).
  13. Stick it back in the oven.  Yes, even though it’s been turned off. Wedge the door open about an inch with a cooking utensil that won’t melt.
  14. Let it cool and dry out in the oven for about an hour.
  15. Let it finish cooling completely, cut wedges completely, serve.

Notes

This makes for a great stand-alone shortbread worthy of giving up so much oven time. Buttery and a little crumbly.

Basis of recipe can be found in Cooks Illustrated’s All-Time Best Holiday Baking, which inexplicably doesn’t include the Cream Scones of Doom.

Cucumber Sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches

Makes: varies
Takes: 30 minutes + 1 day

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Herbs What You Like
    recommended: savory, thyme, dill, oregano
  • a little cream or milk

Instructions

Cream cheese mixture:

  1. Let cream cheese warm up some in a bowl
  2. Add spices and mix, adding a little cream or milk to thin it out to a spreadable paste. The goal of this mixture is to be the glue holding the cucumbers and bread together.
  3. If not using immediately, cover tightly (press air out) with plastic wrap and store in fridge.

Cucumber preparation:

  1. Do this at least 2 hours in advance (the night before is also fine).
  2. Peel and slice the cucumber thinly.
  3. Lay the slices in a single layer on paper towels (stacking layers of towel + cuke is ok).
  4. Let sit in the fridge until it’s time to compile the sandwiches.

Assembly of sandwiches:
Recommend: use full slices of bread and trim to shape after compiling.

  1. If refrigerated, let cream cheese mixture warm up enough to spread.
  2. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on a slice of bread, then put down a layer of cucumber slices. Cut slices in half if needed to fill a corner.
  3. Spread a second thin layer of cream cheese mixture, then another layer of cucumber slices.
  4. Spread a third thin layer of cream cheese mixture, then put the second slice of bread on.
  5. Repeat 2-4 until you have enough.
  6. Cut sandwiches into quarters or saltirewise to be adorable tea sandwiches.

Notes

This is a recipe I made up, basically from “cucumber sandwiches are a thing, how would that work?”

Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake

Makes: 9 inch square pan
Takes: 50-60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cup sifted (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (or 3 tbsp grated fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground if that’s what you have)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter (melted then cooled to room temp)
  • 3/4 cup mild or light molasses (or dark if you like it dark)
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (in a pinch, use 1/2 cup regular yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • optional confectioner’s sugar to dust at the end

Instructions

  1. Put oven rack to the middle.  Pre-heat oven to 350deg F.
  2. Grease bottom and sides of baking pan, then dust it with flour.
  3. Put flour, ginger, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk it together.  This is the dry mixture.
  4. Put the butter, molasses, and sugar in a separate large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined.  This is the wet mixture.
  5. Beat the egg into the wet mixture.
  6. Slowly add the buttermilk and milk to the wet mixture and beat it in.
  7. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.  Beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides as you go, as needed. Should take about a minute.
  8. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake until top springs back when touched and edges pull away from the pan. That’s about 35-45 minutes.
  10. Set pan on cooling rack for about 10 minutes.
  11. Optional: dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Notes

Recipe says it can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.  Leave it in the pan if you do that or it will get a little sticky on the outside.

This is a very cake-like gingerbread.  Do not try to cut out like cookies. Do not use to build a house.

 

Cream Scones Of Doom

Cream Scones of Doom

Makes: 8 wedge scones (or 16 mini-scone wedges)
Takes: 20 – 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • optional: 1/2 cup currants
    or 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
    or 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Instructions

  1. Put oven rack to middle position. Pre-heat oven to 425deg F.
  2. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix.
  3. Cut in the butter.
    By hand: use a pastry cutter or whatever you do you masochist you
    By machine: use a food processor for zip and an extra thing to clean
  4. If using optional add-ins (currants, etc.), add them now and mix.
  5. Stir in heavy cream until dough begins to form.
  6. Dump dough and all dry flour bits to countertop (or whatever) and knead briefly until it comes together in a rough, slightly sticky ball (5 – 10 seconds?). Don’t over-knead.
  7. Pat dough into 3/4″ thick circle and cut into 8 wedges. (For mini-scones, split into two 3/4″ thick circles, cut each into 8 wedges.)
  8. Transfer wedges to ungreased baking sheet.  Optional: brush tops of scones with dregs of the cream, sprinkle with raw sugar.
  9. Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 – 15 minutes.
  10. Cool on wire rack at least 10 minutes. Or they’ll seem underdone. Be chill.  Make some tea and get out the jam and butter and clotted cream while you wait.

Notes

A billion years ago, I found myself in a stranger’s kitchen being fed freshly baked scones. I can’t remember who it was, but the scones were amazing.  This recipe, from Cooks Illustrated (Holiday Baking 2010) is the closest I’ve gotten and they are amazing.

OBVIOUSLY, this is not a straight transcription.  But I’ve made this recipe a lot in the last 6 years or so I have it basically memorized.