July 4th Strawberry & Blueberry Shortbread StarsJuly 04, 2014
Whilst I get the irony of a Brit making a British inspire recipe to celebrate the July 4th, I wanted to make something that honored the stars and stripes as my adopted homestead.
Shortbread is really easy to make and exceptionally delicious. Traditionally Scottish rather than English, I am borrowing this tasty treat from my Celtic neighbours and filling it with the jammy colours of America.
Ingredients: Makes 16 stars
For the shortbread-
1 1/2 cups of salted butter
1 1/2 cups of white granulated (US)/ caster (UK) sugar
3/ 12 cups all purpose (US/ plain (UK) flour
For the filling:
Use this fresh jam recipe or your favourite jam
Make sure that your butter is well chilled and very hard before starting to make shortbread. The key to a good short bread is that is it 'short', which in real money means crumbly and not chewy. This crumbly texture is gained by not overworking the dough and keeping the mixture as cold as possible. If the butter melt and 'soaks' into the flour it becomes a bit paste like and does not make for good shortbread.
Chop the butter into half inch cubes and tumble into the sifted flour, shake over the sugar then use your finger to rub the butter into the flour to make breadcrumbs. If you are making these on a hot day or you have particularly warm hand, it's a good idea to run your hand under a cold tap for a few moments prior to starting this, though make sure you dry them really well. Another tip is to pop the mixture into the fridge every few minutes to re-chill the butter if it starts getting a bit melty.
When you have fine bread crumbs that resemble the texture of wet sand, trickle a very small amount of water into the centre of your crumbs and work together to form a dough. You want to use as little water as possible and work the dough as little as possible. The amount of water you use will depend on so many factors including the climate, flour type and temperature but it's usually no more than a couple of table spoons.
Again, be sure to use cold water so that it doesn't melt the butter.
When you have your dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Cut circles in the pastry that are about 3 1/2 inches or 10cm in diameter, I used a martini glass for lack of a suitable cutter!
To make the stars, pinch the side of the circle together at 5 equal point around the rim of the pastry circle. Dab a little water on the dough to help them stick well.
Transfer your stars onto a well greased baking tray and fill each one with about a table spoon of your jam.
When this is done, pop the trays into the fridge. Further setting the butter will help the stars keep their shape when they are baked in the hot oven.
Bake in a preheated oven at about 320F for 10-15 minutes, you wanted them to be a pale golden colour but not brown.
As I said in the jam recipe instructions, the jam will become richer and stickier in the heat. Let the stars cool after baking and serve up as part of a 4th of July picnic!
(or scoff them all in the safety of your kitchen where no one else can get them!)