Monday, 25 June 2012

Jam Shortbread Biscuits to spoil your appetite!

Being on this diet (not that it’s doing much help) has left me totally missing cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I cook. But not proper cooking. Cooking with lots butter, oil and salt. Cooking where I don’t care about how much carbs are in a meal. Cooking with lots of sugar. Indulgent cooking! So the other day I got home at a reasonable hour and decided it was time to give into my cravings and bake. Plus, it had been a pretty full on week at work, so I knew the girls would appreciate baked goodies. 

So I grabbed a Donna Hay magazine off the shelf that I knew had a heap of cookie recipes in it and flipped through till I found something that tickled my fancy and I had all the ingredients for in the kitchen. I tend to have some butter and eggs in the fridge, and some flour, sugar and baking powder in the cupboard. From past experience, if you have those basics lying around you can generally find a recipe for a last minute baking emergency. Note to self…buy more butter. The recipe I decided to make was Donna’s sour cherry and lemon shortbread fingers. Nothing complicated, just lovely lemony shortbread with a little jam in between to add some sugary goodness. I needed to do a little substitution, but nothing that really mattered. 

Before you start this recipe, just be aware there’s 1 ½ hrs of resting time needed so don’t start too late. I started at about 8pm, so it wasn’t too bad.

120g butter, softened
1 C caster sugar + 1 tablespoon extra
1 egg, room temperature preferably
1 tsp vanilla extract (make sure its not essence…its no where near as good)
1 ¾ C plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs finely grated lemon rind
½ C dried sour cherries
¼ C strawberry jam

First you make the jam as it needs to cool at bit. Put the ½ C cherries, ¼ C jam and 1 tbs caster sugar into a food processor and process until it’s a rough paste. 
I didn’t have sour cherries, so I used cranberries instead. Actually, I didn’t have enough cranberries either, so I threw in a few sultana’s to bring it up to ½ C. Worked just as well I think. 
Put the paste into a saucepan and bring to the boil and cook, stirring the whole time. Cook it for two minutes or until it thickens. 
I ended up adding a splash of water as nothing was really happening. I also wanted to re-constitute the dried fruit a little. I then let the water boil off a bit. Once it’s done, put the jam aside to cool completely.
Put the 120g butter and 1 C caster sugar into an electric mixer and beat for 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. In my baking enthusiasm I didn’t let the butter soften, and that was a mistake. Made it much harder to beat.

Add in the egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix to combine. It’s usually better to use room temperature eggs if you can. I didn’t actually know why I do this, so I’ve looked it up. Apparently, you get more volume out of beating eggs that are room temperature, but they are easier to separate when they are cold.
Sift and add the 1 ¾ C flour and 1 tsp baking powder to the mixture. Add 1 tbs of lemon rind and mix until just combined. I have to make a confession. I didn’t really read the recipe properly and it was only when I was writing this up that I realised I used the rind of a whole lemon, not a teaspoon. But no harm no foul, it the final result was lemony and delicious.
Now the next part is a little tricky, but bare with it. It’s worth it! Divide the dough into two, and measure exactly. 
Put one half between two pieces on baking paper and roll it out to measure 16cms x 22cms. Again, you need to measure and try and make it as rectangular as possible. The more accurate you are now, the less wastage of baking goodness later. The good thing about this dough is you can kinda take a pinch from here and mould it in there etc. Once you get the 16x22 cm piece of dough rolled out, do the same with the other and stick them in the freezer for half an hour on a baking tray. And that’s the hard part over. Not hard at all really.
Take one of the pieces of dough out of the freezer and spread it with the yummy jam. 
Take the other piece out and put it on top of the first, like a shortbread jam sandwich. Be as accurate as possibly lying one on top of the other. 
Wrap this all up in cling wrap and put on a baking tray and stick it in the freezer for another hour. You want it to be nice and firm, so it’s easy to cut.
Get a nice big baking tray ready with some baking paper on it, then take the dough out of the freezer. Cut the edges to trim them nice and straight. 
Then cut the jammy sandwich into 1cm thick slices. The recipe said use a ruler, but I didn’t. Is that bad? Put the fingers on a tray, leaving space for the dough to spread. I put the edges in to bake as well. Why throw it out when it will taste just as good?!?
Bake for 10 – 12 mins, or until golden brown. Let it cool for a little while on the tray, and then enjoy.  They’re delicious!!! Mine didn’t look as proper, square and even as Donna’s, but I’m sure they were just as delicious, maybe more so.

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