High Country Baking: sandwich shortbread

Adding hard-boiled egg yolks to this sandwich shortbread reduces gluten formation, which makes baked goods tough.
Vera Dawson/Courtesy Photo

Colored eggs are as much a part of Easter as the iconic bunny. But what do you do after the party is over? You make pastries! Adding a couple of hard-boiled egg yolks to almost any baking recipe will increase its richness and make it more tender. Why? Pieces of cooked yolk reduce the formation of gluten, which makes baked goods tough. You don’t have to change the recipe, just add hard-boiled egg yolks. If you’re making the batter in a food processor, crumble a cooked and cooled yolks or two and blend the small pieces into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a food processor, press the cooled, cooked egg yolks through a fine-mesh sieve and mix into the batter.

I added two cooked yolks to this shortbread sandwich recipe, which has been one of my favorites for years. It was still quite good but was made even more delicate and tender with the addition. The difference was significant. I’ve also been pleased with the results when I’ve included baked yolks in shortcake, biscuit, pie crust, and other cookie recipes.

Sandwich shortbread

Make in an 8-inch shiny metal springform pan

The recipe works at any altitude

  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large hard-boiled egg yolks (optional)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick plus two tablespoons), cold
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • A heart-shaped cookie cutter one inch or smaller
  • Egg wash (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Grease the pan with cooking spray containing flour and cover it with plastic wrap, letting the wrap hang over opposite edges so you can use it as handles.

To do in a food processor: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse to mix well. Crumble/mash the cooked egg yolks into small pieces, add and pulse to distribute them evenly in the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces, add them with the vanilla and mix until large clumps of moist dough form, stopping before the dough forms a ball on top of the blade.

To do with a blender or by hand: Cut the butter into pieces, place them in a mixing bowl and let them soften. Beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color. Push the cooked egg yolks through a mesh sieve into the bowl, cleaning the bottom of the sieve as needed. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until well blended. Slowly add flour, stirring until just blended.

Roll out the dough on a sheet of waxed paper. Gently knead until smooth and divide it in half. Refrigerate one half and press the other half into the bottom of the plastic wrap lined pan, leveling and smoothing. Place the mold in the freezer or refrigerator until the dough is quite firm but not stiff. Using the plastic handles, carefully lift the circle of dough out of the pan, place it on a plate and put it in the fridge (it will become the top of the sandwich). Press the remaining half of the dough into the bottom of the pan, smooth and level it. Stir raspberry jam until smooth. Roll it out to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the dough.

Remove the circle of dough that will become the top of the refrigerator. Using a knife or straight-edged ruler, gently score the dough (do not cut it) into eight equal-sized wedges. Use the cookie cutter to cut hearts out of four of them. Be sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of dough on all sides of the cutout shape in each corner or the dough may tear during baking. Refrigerate cut-out hearts. If dough circle has softened, refrigerate until firm. Use a large spatula to lift it up and place it in the pan, above the filling. Place the cut-out hearts on the plain wedges and press them gently into the dough so that they stick to it. Press the edges of the two rounds of dough with the tines of a fork to seal them. If using egg wash, whisk an egg and a teaspoon of milk and lightly brush the top. You won’t use everything.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is set and lightly colored and the edges are slightly darkened. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely before cutting. Store in a cool place for up to 5 days.

Editor’s note: This recipe is inspired by a recipe published in Shortbread by Jan Johnson.

Vera Dawson

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