Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What makes it Hungarian you ask?

What does Hungarian shortbread and preschool teachers have in common? They are both awesome buttery goodness. OK well maybe the teachers are not buttery goodness but they are awesome goodness (and the shortbread is definitely buttery goodness). And they are also being celebrated this week. After all I figured what better way to say Thank you to Ms. Barbara, Ms. Laura and Ms. Carol during National Teacher Appreciation week then to bake and share this weeks treat.

Once again the list of ingredients was fairly short. Sugar, eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and butter.

And in case you did not notice....that is F.O.U.R. sticks of butter people.

That much butter does make you wonder. If someone gave this treat to you as a present is it saying "I love you" or "you annoy the crap out of me and I slowly trying to kill you from the inside out". 

I also ran a little short of sugar. I poured every grain I had but was left about a 1/4 cup short...and with an empty canister. It turns out that the lack of sugar probably worked in my favor. 

You mix it all together, beating it for eternity to get it all fluffy and nice. Only I find that while I can beat my butter until it is nice and fluffy that as soon as I add my sugar there is little hope of matter how long I beat it. Stupid organic sugar. So in my case you beat it as long as it takes to daydream about what it would be like if you invented something and it became super popular and you became rich and famous and Oprah became your BFF. In other words beat it awhile and then give up. 

You then shape your dough into 2 balls of buttery goodness, wrap your butter babies in plastic warp and stick them in the freezer for a time out. 30 minutes later take them out of their time out and (this next step is totally what makes them Hungarian not Scottish shortbread) grate the balls of chilled dough with a box grater. After grating 2 rather large balls of dough up and down, up and down, up and down on the side of a box grater you will now have big bulging arms much like the woman in Budapest that gave me the most amazing massage....despite my being sure that her ginormous man hands were going to crush my bones. 

Grated buttery goodness = large bulging biceps
After grating the first ball of dough onto the bottom of the pan you spread it with some jam. The recipe called for homemade rhubarb jam but I had neither rhubarb or the desire to make jam. Luckily along came Karen (my step-Mom).....and her amazing gift of local strawberry jam.

Spread some jam, grate some more dough, take some Motrin because your muscles hurt from grating dough and then put the whole thing in the oven. 

Take it out of the oven while you husband is bathing the wee one, have him throw the wee one immediately into the crib so that he can race downstairs and scarf up a piece of the amazing smelling shortbread. 

He needs a sign that reads: Put More Shortbread Here and No One Gets Hurt.

Lots of people commented on the Baking with Julia website that they felt the bottom layer of dough needed to be baked first but I honestly do not think so. This is not a traditional crisp, hard shortbread. After all it is based on grated dough that is not packed down. It reminds me of a crumbly cookie/cake style desert we would get in Europe. The only warning I offer is that when you try a piece of this is to keep it small and keep a gallon of milk next to you because it is sweet (despite me running out of sugar). 

Oh and as for the whole idea of giving this super sweet desert to A's super sweet preschool teachers. It turns out that Teacher Appreciation week is next week. The timing did seem a little too perfect.

And now the small print:
Hungarian Shorbread pages 327-328. Hosts: Lynette from 1 small kitchen and Cher from The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler