Bake Someone Happy !
Buttery, crumbly, golden goodness – these blueberry shortbread squares are easy to make and hits the right spot. This was based on the recipe from the rollickingly witty Chef John (yes, he of the Food Wishes fame!). It was very easy to rustle up, and I think I won’t be doing this preamble any justice by prolonging the inevitable, so let’s get to it.
Here’s the fineprint though: as far as my rep on BakeSlave goes, I’ll have you know that I made slight changes from the original recipe. Mea culpa! I followed the recipe to a T, but found that the suggested portion of two thirds of the shortbread dough was not sufficient to cover the 9″ square bakepan that I used. In the end, to ensure an evenly spread shortbread base, I had to use about 80% of the shortbread dough. I think, owing to the heat of the evening, the butter in the dough melted quite a bit, and I ended up with a bit of a soft dough that did not improve on chilling. Nothing a little almond meal can’t do to save the day, thankfully.
Improv is a leitmotif in my baking escapades!
For my slightly modified recipe, you will need:
185 g all purpose flour
100 g caster sugar [Chef John’s recipe called for 112 g]
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
A pinch of ground nutmeg and cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon) [Chef’s recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese 5-Spice]
113 g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon ice cold water
125 g blueberries (approximately 3/4 cups)
Plus, for my modified streusel: Approximately 1/3 cup of almond meal and 3 heaped tablespoons of light brown sugar
Preheat your oven to 190°C, and lightly grease a 9″ square bakepan.
Assemble all ingredients in the dry mix and then set that mixing bowl aside.
Work the cold, cubed butter into the flour until you get a mixture that resembles rough chunky breadcrumbs with chunks of butter – do this by using a pastry cutter, or, (if, like me, you do not have a pastry cutter) let your fingertips do the work (refer to this link if you are not sure how). Try not to handle the “bread crumbs” too much or the butter will melt and you will be left with a pliable chunk of dough instead of something that looks like a rough crumble.
Add the egg yolk and give the “bread crumbs” another quick rub in. Then drizzle in the scant amount of ice cold water, and gently bring the mixture together. Roughly portion about slightly more than 3/4 of the shortbread dough into the bakepan and press the dough into the pan to level.
Next, stud the surface with the blueberries, allowing for some space between the berries. This is where I had a bit of a snafu – I was left with about 1/4 portion of shortbread dough that did not resemble a crumble at all. To remedy that, I bunged in the almond meal and brown sugar to the remainder of the dough and used that as an improvised streusel to strew on top of the berries.
Bake the shortbread for 35 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Once cooled, cut the shortbread into bars (or squares). Lovely with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream.
Oh, and the butter is strong in this one. Not a sweet treat for those watching their waist-lines. Caveat emptor! Let me know if you tried this recipe with other berries; I’m sure the shortbread would be just as delectable.
Bake Someone Happy! xoxoxo