Friday, March 26, 2010

Oatmeal Shortbread

Everyone knows the perfect composition of shortbread – simple, crisp, buttery. Combine the right amount of flour, an abundance of butter, a whisper of sugar and a hint of salt and you have a delectable cookie that would please anyone anywhere.

Given my penchant for oatmeal, I just had to take it one tiny step further. However, the same results obtain. Because the oatmeal is ground with the flour, you still wind up with a crunchy, crumbly cookie rather than a chewy one. And the lovely oat flavor is all there, especially when you invite oatmeal’s famous lover, brown sugar. What I like about these cookies is that they are very light and have no heavy after effects, even if you eat two.

If you’re in the mood to go back to the basics, this is a uniquely satisfying cookie. It’s so easy to make that you will find yourself looking for excuses not to bake another tray. It would go well as the centerpiece for a gathering of friends at the table or as one of the featured guests at a beautiful brunch or as the best gift for a friend in need.

Bench notes:

- This shortbread is baked for a long while at a low temperature. This allows for a nice toasty flavor and a crispy crunchiness that is typical of delicious shortbread. Unlike classic shortbread, this version does take on some color.
- Salt is very important to keep oatmeal from tasting flat.
- I used an 8” tart ring. You can also use a 9” tart pan or square pan, just check it the last few minutes. The top should be firm to the touch. If you happen to underbake the shortbread, cut into pieces and toast in the oven for an additional few minutes.
- Scoring the shortbread when it comes out of the oven and cutting into pieces with a very sharp knife while it is still warm will give you nice clean slices instead of jagged shards. Or, if you are in the mood for savagery, break it into pieces with friends as you would the astonishing Italian Almond Sbrisolona.
- I might be tempted to add a bit of espresso powder to the mix next time. If you’re crazy about cinnamon, you would also enjoy it here.
- If you're a fiend for oatmeal, you'd probably also enjoy Oatmeal Ice Cream, Oatmeal Banana Cake or Oatmeal Shortcake with Plums.

Oatmeal Shortbread
Makes 16 wedges

1 C flour
1/2 C oatmeal, plus a bit more for garnish
1/2 t salt
3 T sugar
3 T brown sugar
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla
raw or turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8” tart pan.

Place the flour, oatmeal and salt into the bowl of a food processor and process until the oatmeal is finely ground. Add the sugar and blend. Add the pieces of cold butter and vanilla and process until the mixture comes together in clumps around the bowl.

Gently press the mixture into the pan, making sure it is evenly spread. Sprinkle a smattering of oats and then raw sugar over the surface and gently press into the surface.

Bake the shortbread for 60 minutes. As soon as you remove from the oven, take the point of a sharp knife and score the top into serving pieces. Cool the shortbread in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and gently slice into pieces while still warm.


Mimi said...

I love your food styling. You are able to take food that could be a photo disaster and make it really pretty. I wish I could do that!!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Mmm I want to dip this in a pot of jam!!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much for your sweet comments, Mimi. Julie, you just really made me laugh!

Victoria Carr said...

Once again, a delightful post - beautiful pictures and lyrical prose.

I know this would be perfect with a mug of tea, but do you think it would also be lovely late at night with a tiny glass of Drambuie?

Anonymous said...

I can almost smell this in my mind's nose, and yes, I am planning to take my food processor (and favorite baking pans)on vacation with me, and will bake this up the first morning in our rental apartment. Mmmm


pastry studio said...

Hello Victoria - I don't see why not!

OhEss, Bon Voyage!

Bryan said...

hello! these cookies are the perfect come-down to the week.

i used dark brown sugar, very minimal cinnamon, and a healthy dose of salt.

the shortbread is so delicious, the oats give a great warm toasted flavor.
and i like how the garnish adds a nice color-contrast, the cookie does get pretty golden.


pastry studio said...

Thank you, Bryan! So glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. It's really a simple, super good cookie.

Yummita said...

To be honest I don't like the classic shortbread too much. But this one sounds really (and looks of course) very good. Guess I'll give this one a chance :)



Kathleen said...

Your photos are soooo beautiful! The shortbread sounds really yummy!

Unknown said...

Shortbread is amazing enough as is, but oatmeal sounds like such a great addition...and a good excuse to eat shortbread for breakfast, right? ;)

ar'be dar builders said...

Yeah! I have searched, begged and complained for years now, after having used this rec. as my most famous offering, but do you think I could repeat it accurately? I have desperately (at at great expense in the butter department!) and repeatedly failed to achieve it 'til voila'- I found you!! much obliged, Sandy in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada; Hooray!!!

Cook with Claire said...

This is my daughter's favorite cookie. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

pastry studio said...

Claire, many thanks. They are one of my favorites, too!

Diane said...

Love, LOVE, LOVE your website!!
I do have a question about your delicious Oatmeal Shortbread.
If I were to add cinnamon, how much would you suggest?
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.
Oh,and Happy New Year!


pastry studio said...

Hi, Diane! Thanks so much for your super kind words.

I would probably add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Or maybe a scant 1/2 teaspoon if you're a cinnamon FIEND.

A very Happy New Year to you and your family!

Chris said...

Hi PS, I made this recipe over the weekend and it was pretty good - probably the best shortbread I've made (and I've been on a quest for shortbread for quite some time). I say 'probably' because I overcooked it and I don't know how it would have tasted unburned. The texture was good though.

If I had my way, I think I would prefer a shortbread with just a touch less tenderness and a touch more crunch. How do you think I should best go about achieving this? I'm thinking of adding an egg white to your recipe - the water for gluten development, the protein to crystallize when heated. What do you think of my food science conjecture?

pastry studio said...

Hello, Chris. So sorry to hear your shortbread got overbaked. Does your oven run hot? Did you bake in a nonstick, dark pan or glass? Those will conduct heat in a different way.

Some of what makes a cookie more tender is egg yolks, rice flour or cornstarch, and brown sugar. So you could change the ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar. I added brown sugar for the flavor but you could cut it back to 1 tablespoon or use all granulated sugar for a different outcome. You could also try the Alice Medrich method of twice-baked shortbread. Melt the butter (that will produce a bit more water) and mix with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Then add the flour and oatmeal. Spread the dough in the pan and let it sit for 2 hours or preferably overnight unrefrigerated. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the pan and cool for 10 minutes. Gently remove the shortbread and cut into pieces. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to toast them. Then cool on a wire rack.

In general, it's better to underbake shortbread and return to the oven to toast. You'll want to use these baking times as approximate since it sounds like your oven may run hot.

Hope this helps!