Monday, March 8, 2010
An Irish Blessing...
Just a little more than a week away, but St. Patrick's Day is definitely one of my favorite holidays to bake for. My great grandmother, Caroline Belle Winfield Roland Sellner had seven children, five boys and two girls and was a great baker. In fact, my grandmother Gladys, her eldest daughter, would say that's where my mother "inherited" all her skills from. I have her recipe for scones (which I posted last year) and wish there was more written down of her cobblers, cakes, pies, etc. She passed away before I was born, but her memory lives on and I kind of think I inherited some of those baking genes along with a lot of her Irish stubborness.
Today, I baked Pistachio Shortbread from the recipe files of King Arthur Flour. Interestingly, I've discovered once you crossed over to the "dark side" and used a mix ( Unbelieveable Cinnamon Buns), I wasn't the least bit guilty in buying a package of Jell-O Pistachio Pudding to put in the shortbread as called for. Now, I know what you're thinking...shortbread isn't Irish, and you're right. It dates back as early as the 12th Century and is often attributed to Mary, Queen of the Scots in the 16th Century. It was expensive to make and reserved as luxury for special occasions like Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year's Eve) and weddings. I chose this recipe, mainly for the bright green color that comes from the pudding mix, and the fact it was baked for special occasions. The occasion today is my March Give-Away of yes, another apron! Green is the color of the month and this recipe and apron represents that theme.
Also, just in case you don't have the Luck of the Irish on your side, everytime you comment on a posting for the month of March, I will put a slip of paper with your name in the box and you will have a better odds to be chosen. It will be like the Irish Sweepstakes!
I will, however, give you my original recipe for shortbread. It took a lot of research and practice to come up with one that would please my father-in-law, who had asked me, shortly after our wedding..."can you bake shortbread?" I guess I'm glad that wasn't a pre-requisite for marrying into the family, but a bonus for them. My husband's grandfather was born in Edinborough, Scotland and came to America when he was 16. I'm glad I brought a smile on "Dad's" face when he tasted my version. Enjoy!
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup rice flour
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven 300F-degrees. Lightly spray a 8" or 9" round pan with vegetable oil spray. Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the rice and all-purpose flour and stir or mix with your hands. Pat the dough into the round pan (or use a "shortbread mold"). Sprinkle some additional sugar on top. Prick the surface with a fork and score with a knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Immediately, turn shortbread out on a surface to cool and cut through the score lines. Cool 10 minutes before eating.