Wed 29 Nov 06
As it's coming up to Christmas, and the guys at work have been deprived of biscuits for a while, I thought I'd put together some shortbread. This was driven by sheer laziness on my part, as shortbread is nice and easy to make. Housemate was hoping for millionaire shortbread (caramel and chocolate topping), but last time I made that it took me all night, and I ended up with loads of left-over caramel which turned into my dinner for about a week (healthy, I know).
I spotted this recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini, and was intrigued by the use of polenta. Once I started doing some reading I found many variations on a theme. A lot seem to add rice flour or ground rice to the mix. I was tempted to do this myself, as I had some ground rice left over from my bakewell tart making. By this point my prevarication was doing Housemate's head in, who suggested that I just use the first recipe.
So I did. Into the Magimix went 150g of unsalted butter (Clotilde at C&Z uses salted but I'm yet to be convinced about salted butter doing anything other than going on toast or crusty bread), 70g golden caster sugar, 70g polenta, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and 150g of plain flour. The Magimix did its business, and before I knew it I was pressing the mix into a baking parchment lined baking dish (a 23cm rectangular one - it made a nice thick shortbread). I didn't bother with any kneading - just straight from food processor to baking dish. For a bit of traditional decoration, I attacked it with a fork before putting it in the oven.
I preheated the oven to 160C and cooked it for about 50 minutes. I cut it into squares (I think it was about 20) as soon as it came out and let it cool in the pan.
It really was that easy. No excuses for not carting some homemade biscuits round to friends' houses when you go for Christmas drinks!
The polenta makes the mix the most wonderful yellow colour - so much less anaemic than just flour. One of the requests from work had been for shortbread which was slightly chewy in the middle, which this wasn't. I enjoyed it because it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet, and it was lovely and short and crumbly. I can't see what salted butter would have offered, although I should probably give it a go at some point. Actually, given the number of shortbread variations there are, I'm quite tempted to do a survey ...
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