You’ve probably heard one of these jokes.
A newcomer to Vancouver arrives on a rainy day.
She gets up the next day and it’s raining. It also rains the day after that, and the day after that. She goes out to lunch and sees a young kid and, out of despair, asks, “Hey, kid, does it ever stop raining around here?” the kid says, “How should I know? I’m only 6.”
AND IT IS TRUE. I read that we had the wettest October on record this year, which made me sad. Because October was supposed to be “nice” fall, ya know, cool temperature but dry. Instead it has been grey, and dark, and very, very wet. Usually around this time of the year people start making really cozy foods: spiced cakes, spiced cookies, pumpkin things. Well I have two limes, and I remember seeing some coconut flakes in the depth of my cupboard somewhere. These sounds like nice and cheerful flavours, let’s go with that instead.
Have you ever watched any Great British Bake Off, or have ever heard of it? Wonderful show, currently with loads of uncertainty in its future because 3 out of 4 of the hosts are leaving the show due to some network drama. If you have never seen any, go find some and watch them. Super inspirational. Very positive. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside with an urge to make your own cakes. Anyway, one of the special episode was comedians baking shortbread. The word “overworked” was said no less than fifty thousand times in that episode. Trust me, I counted. Fifty thousand times. As you probably know, gluten is one of the things that develops in flour. The more you work your floury dough, the more gluten develops. If you are making bread, you want lots of gluten to build up a structure and trap the air bubbles so you’d have a nice fluffy big loaf of bread. In cakes and pastries, you want less gluten because you don’t want hard and chewy cakes. Shortbread is supposed to be a “melt-in-the-mouth” thing, so the less you handle your dough, the better…. so I was told!
That being said, Shortbread is also one of those doughs that can only be bind together by sheer willpower alone. There is minimal liquid in it, it looks like slightly sticky breadcrumbs. To make it into a dough ball you have to really press it together somehow and will it to stay that way. Then try to roll it, cut it out and hope it all stays in one piece. When I was rolling it I keep hearing Paul Hollywood telling me it is going to SO overworked and it is going to be so tough. I was having so much anxiety about it until I realize I am not in a competition and honestly I am sure my coworker will eat up shortbread that has been rolled up for the 11th time. Still, there is no reason not to find a way to keep track of different amount of work on the dough and see if it actually makes a difference. The bell shapes are first roll, flowers are second and third, everything after that is this weird.. Car?Santa? shape.
The verdict? Yes. The first roll was the best, they do melt in your mouth. Up till the third they are still quite acceptable, by the fifth roll they are definitely harder and sort of crunchy. I am absolutely fine with it! If you didn’t tell anyone I am sure no one will notice. So go ahead, roll as many times as you like until you run out of dough!
I tried to spread the icing with a knife, which does work. But pouring into one of them squeezy bottles would make it easier. Until you start to get lazy and just so a zigzag pattern and pretend it is a cool thing you meant to do. They are good either way!
Recipe from Gimme some Oven
(you can click on the link and see how pretty they are supposed to be)
For the Cookie
70g Shredded Coconut, lightly toasted
105g Granulated Sugar
2Tbsp Lime zest
208g Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed
315g All Purpose Flour
A few Tbsp of water*
For the Glaze
250g Icing Sugar
1Tbsp Lime juice
1Tsp Lime Zest
2-3 Tbsp Water
1. Put your shredded coconut in a baking sheet, bake in middle rack at 175°c/350°f until golden. You might have to shake it a few times to make sure it is toasted evenly.
-Set your oven to 160°c/325°f
2. Combine the coconut, lime zest, vanilla and pulse it in the food processor if you want them very fine. I left them chunky and quite enjoyed the texture.
3. If using a food processor then just add flour + butter and pulse until you get a dough. If doing it by hand, you combine the coconut mix into flour, then add in the cold cubed butter. With your finger tips, rub flour into the butter cubes until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. It sounds tedious that is because it is. You may want to use a food processor but I didn’t feel like having to wash it so I didn’t.
4. Try to form a dough with this crumbly mess. If your hands are warm-ish the butter should help combine the dough. If you are a reptile like me, it will be too crumbly. Add a half tsp of water at a time until you can make a smooth dough.
5. Parchment paper is the best tool for rolling here. You can put the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it to about 5-6mm. Or however thick you think shortbread should be, it isn’t a big deal. Cut shapes out from the sheet of dough, round works best with something fiddly like this. If you are in a warm house and the dough gets too greasy, put the rolled out dough in the fridge to firm up before cutting.
6. Put your cut cookie shapes on a flat baking sheet, they don’t expand much so you can put them decently close. But do give them space because they are going through a dramatic transformation from crumbly mess to delicious cookies.
7. Roll the leftover dough, cut again. Until you have nothing left and make the large remaining dough really big. That is your special treat that no one needs to know about.
8. Bake for 15-17 minutes. The colour you want it very very slight golden around the edges. The shortbread should be very pale.
9. Transfer the cookies onto a wired rack to cool. Do not attempt to ice them until they are completely cooled.
10. To make the glaze combine the icing sugar, lime juice and zest. Add in the water 1Tbsp at a time until you like the consistency for whichever way you want to ice your cookies. I ran out of lime so my glaze didn’t have zest in it. It was just as tasty.
I am not sure why but my shortbread always come out with a bit of a hollow bottom. I read something about that you bang the tray on the counter before you put the cookies in to bake. It is a minor detail no one really cares about. They taste great.
Unless you are this douchebag.
Then you don’t fucking deserve cookies.