Monday, 29 August 2016

Shortbread Saga - Success! ... Hopefully

I'm still not writing about books and I don't care.

Now, let me share more shortbread stories.

Up till last month, the middle of each cookie I made was moist, which I assumed is normal.

It is not.

So, after more reading and a little trial and error, the breakthrough came on the night of 24 August 2016. Yes, I bake at night these days. It's the only time I'm free, apart from weekends.

Technology also captured the exact date and time (10:58pm) this
moment happened

Assuming one strictly follows the 1:2:3 ratio for sugar, butter and flour respectively:

First: dough must be almost dry to the touch and not too wet. If it's too wet, add a little flour - really a little, like about a level tablespoon at a time - until the right feel and consistency is reached. For a more buttery, rich and crumbly texture, add less flour, or don't add any more flour.

Second, the oven's temperature has to be as low as possible. Mastering my old Cornell electric oven took some time, and I got the results I wanted with a temperature of around 100°C to 110°C - analog controls, okay? But because of its age, the temp might not be like it says on the dial.

Third, watch the cookies like a hawk. I previously covered the cookies with baking paper, which I thought would give the surface even browning. But careful watching made that unnecessary.

After about 10 minutes, I rotated the tray and let it finish baking, as the heat is less intense near the oven hatch. Once the colour becomes a light golden brown, it's time to take them out to cool.

When I bit down, CRUNCH. All the way. On top of that, it was delicious, fragrant, and the texture was just right.

This French guy says it best (source: Les Petits Frenchies)

My heart leapt with joy, along with my feet.

♪ I know that it's late late late late late late
I should be in bed bed bed bed bed bed
But I'm so pumped I'm gonna bake bake bake bake
Bake it off, bake it off! ♫

I've baked several more batches since then, including one slightly big batch which found its way to a local newsroom. The response was good, I heard. Several others who were tired of me taunting them with photos of the goods on social media either have or will get a taste.

The process worked for thinner shortbread sticks (dough that's about five to six millimetres thick), but I haven't tried it for the traditional finger-thick pieces. But I doubt I'd take that route again.

Not planning to make a business out of this - for now. Maybe after I retire, perhaps?


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