Sinful SolacePosted: November 4, 2010
I fear I may be going cross eyed from staring at blocks of texts highlighted in neon yellow and processing information about Ancient Rome and her crazy emperors, and overanalysing buildings in ancient Middle East. History; fun subject and definitely thrilling to be able to trump other people with my vast knowledge of the past but seriously? Frustrating as hell to study. In fact, I’m starting to feel the rise of a migraine with the steady beat of a pulse beginning inside my skull.
You can tell I’m stressed when I end up baking a lot. I know some people stress out when they have to cook but I am my most comfortable in the kitchen. In fact, a good form of procrastination for me is to bake, clean and rearrange my kitchen. But the best part is baking sweets because having sweets on hand during stressful periods is one of the best balms for frenzied nerves. I’m not sure the scales will agree with my overconsumption of butter and sugar but it’s a small price to pay to hold on to one’s sanity.
Needless to say, my diet has slipped into disgrace with my meals of over-processed crap like instant noodles and luncheon meat. I’ve improved a little the past few days and have actually been making food from scratch but it’s still rather pitiful – almost too pitiful to photograph and discuss.
However, I’m a person who always has butter, sugar and flour on hand no matter how barren my refrigerator and freezer is. I don’t know what that says about me but it’s certainly handy when one needs a break from huge chunks of texts and illicit substances aren’t an option.
This recipe hails from one of my favourite food blogs out there, Michael Ruhlman’s. It was so easy I was in and out of the kitchen in 15 mins but the most torturous part was waiting for these babies to cook just so I could dig into them.
Adapted from Ruhlman’s recipe
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
226g salted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and use the paddle mixture until the dough comes together.
2. Press into a cake pan or two, depending on the thickness you prefer. Poke with fork for design if you like.
3. Bake in a 175˚C preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cut into appropriate sized pieces while still warm, then allow to cool completely before removing from pan.
I used a brownie tin and a tiny little loaf tin for the balance of the dough. I had my shortbread pretty thick, which is just the way I like it. Of course my appropriation of the size to cut the shortbread into was way off so I had some really strange sized shortbread. This reminds me that back home in my parents’ kitchen I actually have a shortbread tray. It has cutters that you place into the tin after it’s baked to get the exact size you want. A lot more convenient than my game of guesstimation.
I have to confess I could not wait to get a piece into my mouth so I bit into one when it was right out of the oven. Obviously it wasn’t crisp enough and it was also much too hot so I had to spit it out into my hand (I’m so full of charm and grace) and I burned my tongue. Still, absolutely worth it. I feel like the shortbread just gets more delicious over time.
It’s perfectly buttery and sandy and so freaking addictive. I’ve been having two or three pieces as my meal these days. Then when I get sufficiently hungry, I’d begrudgingly make myself some real food. I would happily survive off shortbread, if I was perfectly honest. Except I don’t think my complexion or my wardrobe would appreciate it.
You know what else I’m absolutely itching to make now? Thyme-infused panna cotta with caramel sauce. Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry jam centre and a peanut butter frosting. As you can tell, my focus is nowhere near Augustus Caesar and his pietas or the Pompeiian peristyle homes.