I have my first big test of the year coming up on Thursday, which is why I have spent every day baking and making large, involved dinners. Basically I’ll do anything to avoid studying, but especially when it’s cold outside (finally!) and I have gone grocery shopping twice in the last few days.
I wanted to bake a surprise for Fritz, and I found a Scottish cookbook and shortbread mold that was given to us as a wedding present by the Zietsmans’ (Scottish…duh) family friend, the Mitchells (thanks!). Having never used a wooden mold before, I had to do a little scientific (google) research first, but I knew Fritz liked shortbread and thought it’d be fun to try.
Basic Shortbread (adapted from Scottish Home Baking)
- 6 oz (175 g) plain flour
- 2 oz (50 g) rice flour
- 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar (I substituted powdered sugar)
- 4 oz (110 g or 1 stick) butter
Sift together the two flours (I only had all-purpose flour, so I used 8 oz of that), then cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and work in the flour. Knead until the mixture is smooth and without cracks. I used my mixer for this, but eventually it does have to be kneaded by hand to warm the butter and improve the flour absorption. You can now cut in half and simply shape the dough into two rounds, about 1/4″ thick.
Otherwise, if using a mold, shape the dough over the mold, then remove carefully from the mold and bake on a cookie sheet, on parchment paper. For me, that was easier said then done. I tried first oiling the mold and then flouring it to get the dough to unstick from the mold. Neither really worked that well, most likely because either I had too much butter in the shortbread ratio or my caster sugar/powdered sugar substitution didn’t work very well. I ended up basically prying it out and reshaping the edges afterwards.
Now is a good time to refrigerate the dough so it will maintain its shape while baking (I skipped this step–bad idea). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then bake for about 1/2 hour or until golden brown. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and let cool on a wire rack. Cut into wedges to serve.
The shortbread only lasted for about 2 days, and I am definitely a bit suspicious that Henry was unfairly blamed for this (umm…Fritz?).
For an equally rich tasting but much healthier fall food, today I made a big pot of butternut squash and sweet potato soup. I am super excited to take it to school for lunch tomorrow, when I am freezing cold (why they can’t regulate the temperature in there, I don’t know) and bored. Yum! Fritz also misleadingly calls this “pumpkin soup” and I’m deducing that in his vocabulary, pumpkin means any squash. Is that normal?
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 T butter or olive oil
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 5 C chicken broth
- 1 cinnamon stick
- dash freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 C skim milk
Brown the onion in the butter until soft. Add the squash, potato, thyme, cinnamon, and broth, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the squash and potato are soft. Remove the thyme and cinnamon stick, and blend in batches until smooth.
Add milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and return to a simmer for about two minutes, then remove from heat. Serve with a fresh dash of nutmeg on top.
You’ll love this, I promise. The original recipe didn’t have sweet potato or cinnamon, but I wanted the soup to have a sweeter taste, which worked out wonderfully. Anyway, I need to stop procrastinating and start learning some Adult Neurological Rehab for my test–please let me know if you have used a shortbread mold before and have had more success! Also, I just bought some cans of pumpkin on sale, and I’d love some unexpected or unusual recipes to try (Mom and I settled on pumpkin muffins for one of the cans, but I have some more that are unclaimed!).