Thursday, March 26, 2009

oat shortbread

Today is a wet and dreary day--cloudy skies and constantly drizzling rain. It's the sort of day you want to stay in bed, reading until your eyes flutter shut and then reading again--a long, sleepy cycle. But it's the sort of dreary day you don't really mind, even if you can't stay in bed all day, because it's a warm spring rain and you hope that maybe all of the warm water will melt the snow, finally.

You'll mind the weather even less if you can munch on buttery oat shortbread and sip hot tea. These cookies are like a warm sweater--and a tasty one at that! If you're like me, you'll want to keep wandering into the kitchen to eat more of them. But don't worry. It's March and spring is tempting you with the come and go sunny days, you are longing for the trees to start budding and the bulbs to start blooming (at least that's the case here in Ottawa, where spring still has a decidedly wintery feel), you have inadvisedly started wearing spring clothes even though you should probably still be in sweaters and tights. At this time of year, you need all the comfort you can get just to make it through to true, not just hopeful, spring. You need these cookies.

Oat Shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

(note: oat flour and oat bran can be found at health food stores)

Heat oven to 300 F. Prepare a pan. I used a 9-inch round springform for these, but you could also use an 8-inch square pan. For the springform, line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. For the square pan, line with parchment leaving an overhang on two sides (this will help you lift out the baked shortbread.

Whisk together, the flours, bran and salt. Add butter and brown sugar and beat until all ingredients come together and form smooth dough. Press this evenly into the prepared pan. (note: If you use the springform pan, place on a baking sheet before putting in oven as there is a chance for butter leakage).

Bake for 30 minutes until brown on the edges. Remove pan from the oven. With a sharp knife, score the shortbread into even pieces (you don't need to cut all the way through). For the springform pan, score eight wedges. For the square pan, score 4" x 1".

Put pan back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over.

At this point, you can gild the lily by sprinkling granulated sugar (or perhaps even better, raw sugar) over the top. If you've used the springform, remove the pan ring and let the shortbread cool fully before cutting the wedges. If you've used the square pan, allow the shortbread to cool fully, then lift out of pan and cut through the rectangles. Enjoy! and try not to eat it all at once as I tend to do.