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Shortbread

Shortbread — a thing that always works well only with someone else.

Only at mother, or at the mother-in-law, or at the girlfriend at institute, or besides at her mum living somewhere far-far.

Although in principle, this is a very simple thing, shortbread.

The main principle of the test, which is made shortbread, The following is true: the flour is ground with fat, and the mass of fat should be half as much as the mass of flour. It is important to understand that this principle is indeed fundamental.

Having sorted it out, you will understand everything.

For a shortbread biscuit, it is necessary to take the most ordinary bread flour — no durum, no semolina (although durum and semolina are one and the same), not self-rising, not peeling, or what kind of flour happens in nature. But the more qualitative this baking flour will be, the better.

I got the perfect result with French flour (if to be honest, not only in the case of the test — even a more lively one comes out of it). In any case, look at the production date and shelf life.

Do not try to make shortbread from flour that has been in the kitchen cupboard for two years; flour does not live at all for two years.

Pour the flour into a large bowl, preferably into a steel bowl (I will note that the more large steel bowls in the household, the easier it is to live) and add a pinch of fine salt to it.

It does not matter, you are going to make sweet dough or any other, a pinch of salt is still needed — seasoned bakers and reputable pastry chefs agree on this issue.

This pinch starts some important processes in the test (I don’t know which ones, but my mom did that too).

Make sure your hands are clean and dry, and then lightly mix the flour and salt.

Now close all the vents, take the sieve (the smaller, the better, but the average also comes down) and another bowl, place the bowl on the table, place the sieve twenty centimeters above it — and start slowly pouring the flour onto the surface of the sieve, while slightly shaking it.

Perhaps this is too detailed. But you wonder how many people have no idea how to sift flour properly.

And after all there are at least three reasons to do this: in any flour there may indeed be some foreign inclusions; in the process of storage, any flour coagulates and forms extremely nasty lumps; any flour needs oxygen enrichment.

So it is necessary to sift.

The French, who have an absolute monopoly on culinary truth, prefer butter or butter mixed with lard. Lard — it is melted and refined pork fat, without any taste and smell.

You could say perfect fat.

However, for us lard is just a word, and therefore it makes sense to dwell more on oil.

Butter for breakfast and butter for baking are different things. Butter, suitable for baking, looks like a technical object. It is almost completely white, very hard and does not smell.

Most Russians, I am sure, have never seen such oil in their lifetimes (actually, that’s why they don’t get shortbread). Why is it necessary?

But why?

When flour is ground with butter, at first lumps resembling large bread crumbs are obtained, so in the recipes they write: “grind until bread crumbs form.”

And they are formed in any case, be calm.

But what happens inside the crumbs depends on the quality of the oil directly.

The oil consists of milk fat and, as we know, the rest. When mixing butter and flour, fat always behaves as it should — it envelops the flour particles, encloses them in such capsules.

But with the rest, quite the opposite. Because the chemical composition of wheat flour includes gluten, which is just waiting to be combined with any moisture.

By the way, all bread-baking is based on this: it is gluten when combined with water that gives dough elasticity and firmness.

It is even sometimes added to flour to improve the quality of baking.

Unfortunately, in the case of the sand dough, gluten mostly interferes.

No, some of it is necessary, but very small — just as much is released when using oil, actually containing 82% fat. Can do shortbread and on margarine.

Moreover, new margarine brands are developed so that with them the shortbread dough turns out even better (true, true, I tried) — both plastic at the same time as rolling, and crumbly as a result.

But with cookies, cooked in butter, this cookie is better not to compare.

Easy to say, harder to do. In order to properly grind the oil with flour, it is important that the oil be at the correct temperature — a little colder than room temperature. If the butter is too cold, it just won’t mix with the flour.

And if it overheats, then the flour will begin to “boil,” that is, its particles are tightly sealed with fat, and then there can be no friability of speech.

Remove the oil from the refrigerator for thirty minutes before the start of cooking, cut it into cubes with a side of 4-5 mm, and five minutes before starting to put it back into the refrigerator.

Then put the butter on the work surface, sprinkle with sifted flour, take a large sharp knife — and start chopping, quickly, but evenly.

You will soon see that there is no better way to pre-mix.

After a minute or two, when the butter and flour are to some extent joined together, shake them with a knife into a bowl and begin to rub them with your fingertips; hands, of course, must be cold.

Having rubbed the next portion of flour and butter, lift it above the bowl and, as it were, wear it into the bowl wearily so that the dough does not overheat. Act quickly, without being distracted by anything, but without being carried away — both are dangerous.

As soon as you feel with your fingers that “consistency of bread crumbs”, stop.

Water should be cold, and it should be added very carefully. The most delicate way: dip your fingertips in cold water, and then sprinkle the surface of the mixture of flour and oil.

Then take a knife or metal shovel and collect the dough in the hill.

Mash it, then flatten, then cut and reassemble into a hill (with a knife or spatula, these manipulations take a few seconds).

Then add some more water and repeat the manipulations. When you realize that the dough has acquired a certain solidity, set aside the knife and collect the dough with your hands in a room. If on the walls of the bowl there is not a single piece, the dough is ready.

Cover the dough in a bowl with a wrap or towel and refrigerate for half an hour.

During this time, the released gluten will make it elastic enough to roll out and form a cookie.

This is all, as you understand, the basis.

If you have mastered it, everything else is easy.

To cook just sweet shortbread, add sugar (as small as possible, but not powdered sugar) to the flour immediately after sifting, then add the butter — and further as usual. It is highly desirable in this case to put some vanilla sugar or at least vanillin.

Proportions: per 100 g flour 50 g butter and 25 g sugar (this is the minimum amount of sugar; Americans put twice as much).

To make chocolate shortbread, replace a quarter of the flour with the same amount of cocoa powder. In addition, you can add a small amount of ground cinnamon, or cloves, or vanilla sugar to the dry ingredients. Shortbread biscuits can be made with cheese.

In this case, the cheese must be taken really hard (like parmesan, gruyera, cheddar), rub it on a fine grater, do not add sugar, but add baking powder.

Proportions: per 100 g of flour 50 g of butter, 25 g of cheese and 0.5 tsp of baking powder.

Baked shortbread in an oven preheated to 200ºС (although in general it depends on the specific oven; it happens that 180ºС is enough). Sprinkle water on the baking tray, cover with baking paper and grease with butter. Take the rolling pin, put the dough on the working surface lightly sprinkled with flour — and start rolling from the center to the edge, moving the rolling pin from yourself and towards yourself, but not from side to side, and gradually turning the dough.

Sprinkle flour from time to time so that the dough does not stick.

Cut the rolled dough as you like — and at this moment you can even connect the children.

They rejoice as if they were inside the cartoon (although approximately it happens).

Transfer the sliced ​​biscuits to the baking sheet with a spatula and place on it, leaving about 0.5 cm between the biscuits.

Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for ten minutes, and then bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

When ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool without removing them from the baking paper.

Yes, you should not add an egg to shortbread for cookies.

The need for an extra bunch of dough appears only when it comes to large products — for example, a cake base or sand cakes for a cake.

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