Baking with Julia – Hungarian Shortbread (now with added strawberries!)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith is on TV right now so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little distracted during this post. I feel like I should hate this movie because everyone says it broke up Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt but I honestly don’t care about that at all. Clearly things weren’t peachy in their marriage to begin with or whatever. I just like this movie because they have great chemistry and that’s always a treat to watch. Plus Brad Pitt has some truly great one liners in it. “Clearly you want me dead, and I’m less and less concerned with your well-being.” Bwhahaha! Also I’m really appreciating how beautiful Angelina Jolie is in it since we just watched The Tourist yesterday and she is looking so gaunt these days. Like she really needs a sandwich and a beer, stat!

Anyway, back to the recipe. I gotta say I wasn’t that pumped about this one for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that it was literally right next to the Rugelach and I kind of wanted to branch out more or something. That seems stupid, but I’m being totally honest here. Luckily, I had a bag of frozen rhubarb from my dad’s harvest last year (thanks Daddio!) so I didn’t have to scour the barren produce department or drive to Madison for the farmer’s market or anything. I had a pint of strawberries hanging out in the fridge and since everyone always pairs strawberries and rhubarb, I thought “why not?”

I usually just always discard the tops of the strawberries without a second look but for some reason yesterday I thought they looked kind of picturesque. I did have to run down to the store and get some vanilla beans though. Would you believe I’ve never used one before? I bought a tube of them from Penzey’s last summer with the full intention of making Creme Anglaise but it never happened and I ended up giving them to a friend so he could make homemade ice cream. We carry Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract & beans at the store so I just popped down and brought Jilly some of this delicious, addicting, crack-like Buttery Toasted Cap’n Crunchies mixture and grabbed some and sped back home so no one would see me in my scrubbies with my hair all whack-adoo. So I skedaddled home and got the jam mixture on the stove

It came together very easily and was smelling seriously good. I set it off to the side to cool and then got on with the shortbread portion of the evening. This part also came together really quickly but I have to say I thought it was really hard to deal with in the whole splitting it in two and wrapping it in plastic wrap stage. Every time I have to use plastic wrap I turn into a hybrid of the Hulk & my Uncle Tim screaming “the only thing this shit sticks to is itself! Augh!” I HATE PLASTIC WRAP. But it is very useful and I do end up using it a lot ergo, there is a lot of Hulk-ing out in my kitchen.

The next part of the recipe perplexes me. Why in the name of all that is holy was I expected to hold onto a ball of dough the size of large grapefruit and grate it into the dish? I seriously am confused by this. The grating went okay for about half the ball, but then things deteriorated. I believe you see which side of the pan took the bulk of the shoddy grating

Things look all nice and uniform on the far side of the pan but then they get PRETTY uneven and lumpy in the foreground. Oh well, what can you do? I slathered on that beautiful homemade jam and then repeated the same pisspoor job on the top crust

And into the oven it went! I was pretty confident that the shortbread would spread out and melt kind of and if it didn’t, that’s what a seriously thick coating of powdered sugar is for, right? I followed the directions and unleashed a blizzard of powdered sugar on the shortbread right after I took it out of the oven and while I thought I put on a TON it seemed to kind of melt and turn into a buttery yellow crustiness which I am actually okay with. I don’t like when you accidentally inhale a bunch of powdered sugar and choke when eating a delicious dessert.

I really liked this recipe and so did everyone I shared it with today. I totally apologize for my unreasonable reluctance about it. It was good. It was very, very good. The next recipe on the docket is Pecan Sticky Buns and you know I’m going to have to make some kind of alterations to that one because there is no frickin’ way I’m using pecans. So what did all the rest of you badass Doristas think of this one?

P.S. I just realized I forgot to link to our hosts this week! The lovely Cher over at The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler and the very talented Lynette over at 1SmallKitchen have got the recipe for you if you want to have some of this buttery goodness going on at your house!

32 thoughts on “Baking with Julia – Hungarian Shortbread (now with added strawberries!)

  1. well done on the homemade jam! I just used some store-bought preserves.
    Looks like you sorta won the battle with the grater… my dough kept on getting a bit damp in my hand and made mulitple trips to the freezer.

  2. Haha, awesome! Looks great despite wonky grating! And I’m a little (okay, a lot) sorry I didn’t make the jam now.

    I’ve never bought vanilla beans either. I know they’re gonna taste better, but they’re so expensive and I always cheap out..

  3. I agree with the grating. The recipe is great but that has to go. I’m thinking if we freeze the dough into thin logs, we can push it through a food processor. My elbow and wrist are still sore! I had to ask the hubbie to help out.

  4. “Why in the name of all that is holy was I expected to hold onto a ball of dough the size of large grapefruit and grate it into the dish?” I laughed so hard when I read that, I woke up my snoozing dog. I like Karen’s idea above, but then I’d have to get out the food processor. Glad it turned out well.

  5. Your bars turned out beautifully! I always say that powdered sugar (and frosting) covers a multitude of sins. No way would i have made this if I had to hand grate the dough. The food processor was such a help!

  6. You are cracking me up, Maggie. I think these were more like streusel jam bars than shortbread, though it is delicious no matter what you call it. How do you freeze rhubarb? I grow it in my yard, and I never know how to save what I don’t use. I’d love to freeze it. Do you slice it up first? I thought the whole ball of dough grated pretty well. Mine was in the freezer about 45 minutes (I forgot about it, but not for too long). Nice job!

  7. Maggie,
    What a pleasure to read what you write!! You can tell your friend that all you have to do is wash the rubarb, cut it into chucks and vacuum pack it for the frezzer. Pretty easy and it will last 2 years if vacuum packed. Everyone seems to like what you do Maggie.
    Keep on a blogging!!
    I have two wild-turkeys and one domestic that I am going to try and get smokked this weekend – I will send you pics.
    Love Dad

  8. That gigundo ball was a little unwieldy, wasn’t it?

    FYI: Using Glad Press N Seal in place of Saran Wrap has changed my life. There is significantly less swearing in my kitchen now.

  9. Yeah, my first ball ended up kind of falling to pieces and didn’t want to go through the grater. Fortunately, by the second pan things went better. Whew.

    I used a jar of strawberry rhubarb jam from my pantry & a jar of Meyer lemon marmalade that was lurking in there as well.

    I totally love that your dad comments on your post. That’s so sweet :-) (Great baking this week!)

  10. Loved your picture of the uneven grating, glad it turned out well. This Dorista loved the grating technique but it is seriously worth it to drop some more hints about the food processor :)

  11. Your post was a delight to read, Maggie! I am looking forward to seeing what your substitution will be for the pecans. :) Your shortbread looks wonderful.

  12. I also had trouble with the grating…mine was good initially but as the dough got warmer the grating went out the window. But your shortbread turned out lovely. You are quite focused to be doing both TWD and French Fridays- that’s a lot of cooking!

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