Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD From Baking with Julia: Hungarian Shortbread with Cherry Preserves

Hungarian Shortbread from the book Baking with Julia
A few years ago, one of my husband’s many cousins — this one on his mother’s side of the family — discovered Great Grandfather’s naturalization papers in an attic trunk. The paper suggested their lineage was Hungarian — not the Slovak they’d always believed.

This caused some vexation over which side to choose.

“We don’t know it’s accurate,” my husband said of the artifact. “People who came through Ellis Island had all kinds of crazy things written on their papers.”

Indeed. We’re pretty sure my husband’s paternal great-grandfather’s Italian surname was considerably longer when he arrived at Ellis Island.

My mother-in-law, for one, does not accept the Hungarian designation. She was told her grandfather was Slovak and that’s how it will remain.

As for this Hungarian Shortbread, well, I suppose it could be Slovak. It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that butter, sugar and flour bake up into something good, and if you spread a little jam between the layers, so much the better.

This layered shortbread is a recipe from the pastry chef Gayle Gand which appears in Baking with Julia. The recipe directs you to handle the often sticky shortbread dough by freezing it first. Freeze it, then grate it into the pan. Brilliant.

I’ve used this technique to grate butter into flour for making biscuits and pie crusts, but would never have thought to try it here.

This is a flexible recipe that can accommodate a baker’s busy schedule.

Being in somewhat of a hurry (and also being short on butter), I made one quarter of the recipe. The ingredients are easily adjusted into fourths. I used white whole wheat flour, which made me feel healthier, and half raw cane sugar, which contributed a richer flavor.

It’s worth mentioning that I accidentally melted the butter instead of softening it. It wasn’t a problem, especially as the dough was going to be frozen.

Sadly, I did not get to prepare the rhubarb jam called for in the original recipe. Instead, I used a jar of commercially prepared tart cherry preserves, which were a good foil for the sweet dough.

Instead of baking in a sheet pan, I used my mini muffin tin. I put a layer of grated dough in each section, then spooned a small amount of preserves before sprinkling on the final layer of shortbread dough.

Into the oven and out in short order.

Today’s Hungarian Shortbread recipe is being hosted by Lynette of One Small Kitchen and by Cher at The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. Visit their blogs to get the recipe. And while you’re at it, take a look at other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers.


  1. What a great idea to make them mini! I also like that you used tart cherry preserves which must have tasted so good with the sweet dough.

  2. You are so creative to use your mini muffin tins for this recipe! I really like the crunchy top of your cookies.

  3. Love the idea of minis! Tart cherry...sounds great!

    ~ Carmen

  4. Tart cherry sounds like a great idea - like the muffin cup idea.
    Great job & thanks for baking along this week.

  5. Lovely job - I like the shape the muffin tin gives them. And tart cherry sounds like a fantastic filling.


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