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The name of this recipe had me drooling y’all, there are few things I love more than an apple pie. The problem was, D is very anti apple pie, what’s a girl to do when trying to show off for TWD and please her hard working man (he really is hard working, that man works like a mule)?
Pears! D loves pears, and ever since I made the pear crumble he’s been very enthusiastic about baking more of them. A little chat with the brilliant Jaime got us both wanting to try combining pears, apples, and cranberries for our filling. Nobody ever accused me of being the brightest, but I’ve got enough sense to know if she thinks something food related is a good idea it’s worth a try.
The first time I made the dough (half the recipe), I did it by the book and put it in the fridge for 3 hours. It stayed as sticky as it started out with, and my first turn overs fell apart when I tried to make them. They tasted perfect, but they looked so bad I knew that trying again was the right thing to do. The second time I made the dough, I forgot to put it in the fridge and got distracted watching Star Trek with D! Oh no! The funny thing was that when I picked it up to put it away, it was firmer. Not dried out, and I’d added a little extra flour but it was a lot more dough like. Why not try it right? Floured a silicone sheet, and patted out two large circles. Added the filling, and using a spatula carefully flipped one half over and pressed it closed. It wasn’t sticky, it worked! Lifted it to the baking pan, and baked it at 375 F for 20 minutes.
If y’all are kind, you’ll call them rustic. No laughing at how I like things better when they look like that, ain’t got nothing against fancy but this makes me hungry! They’re big enough that D and me split one, and we were both satisfied after half. It was almost too much! The pastry is so good you could eat it by itself. The other half that i didn’t use for the turn overs, I made into a log and put in the fridge to make cookies with.
Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For The Dough
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flourFor The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (Dorie likes to use Fuji , Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; her grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamonSugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice – the dough will probably curdle, but don’t worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.
To Make The Apples:
Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice – even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that’s fine – and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.
Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9×12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat
Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it’s a little more malleable, you’ve got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan – because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven’s heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick – you don’t want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that’s fine; if it doesn’t that’s fine too.
Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenly across the bottom.
Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don’t have that much overhang, just press what you’ve got against the sides of the pan.)
Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.
Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You’ll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.
Roll out the dough until it is a little thinner than 1/4 inch and cut it into circles 4-1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. Fill each one with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple filling (I chop the apples when I’m using them in a small turnover) or substitute another fruit filling, apple butter and apple chunks or some great preserves. Brush the edges of each dough circle with a little water, fold over the dough to make a half circle pocket and use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and cut a steam slit in the top of each turnover. Bake in a 375-degree-F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and you can smell the sweet filling. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Last week, D came home from a doc’s visit and put some papers in front of me. The doctor had put him on a restricted fat and calorie diet, 2000 calories and 40 g of fat a day. Y’all will forgive me if I ain’t doing the happy dance, but there’s no sense in whining about what is and to be honest I could stand to lose a few pounds. Right, there’s baking to be done and I ain’t gonna let this stand in the way of tasty food! Master Baker has declared cinnamon is the thing to use, and I give you the Cinnamon Pear Crumble. Its really simple, the crumble recipe is from Ellie Krieger (which shouldn’t surprise anybody) and the chocolate and cinnamon is my addition. Y’all would not believe the difference the chocolate makes. It turned it from a regular crumble to something I’ve been eating non stop.
Pear Cinnamon Crumble With Dark Chocolate
1/4 c. oat flour or whole wheat flour
2/3 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. canola oil
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
For the filling
3 lbs. firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 tbls. fresh lemon juice
1 tbls. cinnamon
2 tbls. granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Combine the topping ingredients is a medium bowl and work them together with a fork or your fingertips until uniformly moistened.
To make the filling, combine the pear slices, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar and toss to blend.
To assemble, coat an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the pear mixture to the dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pears. Bake the crumble until the pears are fork tender and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool while you melt the dark chocolate, and pour the chocolate into a small pastry bag or sandwich bag with a clipped tip. Pipe the chocolate over the crumble.
Oh y’all. What can a girl say when a recipe like this gets chosen but that? The more people talked about it, the more I was almost jumping out of my chair to make it! Around here, we wait until Saturdays for the baking (that way I can unload leftovers on people at the Saturday family dinner), but this one almost made me break my rule! A few people said the cake was too dark, and that this household drool even more.
Saturday took it’s sweet time getting here, but that morning I was ready to get to work.
Aint got a double boiler, but a metal bowl on top of a sauce pan worked fine. This part was so easy, I mixed it with running outside a few times to watch D try to wrestle an old push lawn mower into submission. It was good timing! Got to try to push it around, but any real work was gotten out of by pointing out my chocolate was gonna burn.
Ain’t this neat? Who knew folding egg whites into chocolate would look like pics from the Hubble telescope? This is even better than the Milky Way!
This cake was so fun to make. Ain’t a bit harder than an average ol’ cake you throw in quick for unexpected company, and it came together so nicely you could. Ain’t a person that would be disappointed to be served this either (unless they’re one of those odd people who don’t like chocolate, but we don’t talk about them in polite company), and it’s sure to get you lots of compliments.
Tried to make my first ganache for this one, and it couldn’t have been simpler. A little hot cream over some chopped up chocolate did the trick, we didn’t have any corn syrup for the glaze Dorie had and I ain’t partial to corn syrup.
The neighbours are convinced I’m odd, as well as the pierced and eyeliner caked teenage boy who wandered by as I was crouched down in the front lawn taking pics. Ain’t it pretty? The reflections of light made me feel like I had done something right.
Here’s a few pics of the crumb. It was dense, but I didn’t think it was as dense as some of the other people were saying. D declared it similar to a really good brownie, and I agreed. That’s high praise around here.
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.
To Make the Optional Glaze:
First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.
Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.
Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.
A young man only turns one once in his life, and what better way to do so then by pillaging, plundering, and saying yarr? In celebration of a certain boy’s first b-day over at Quirky Cupcake, I give you Pirate Cupcakes. Flavoured with Key Lime in honour of the Florida coast’s long love affair with pirates, and rum extract to celebrate all things grog, these cupcakes are very mild and not too exotic for a kid’s taste buds. The rum extract gives them a hint of the beloved butter rum Life Saver, and the lime is there but not overwhelming or sharp. I wanted to make this something your average kid wouldn’t find weird or unfamiliar tasting. It’s very easy to add more lime to the frosting for the adults, it sharpens it up and cuts some of the sweet that a kid would often like better.
Cupcake (Adapted From Perfect Party Cake, Dorie Greenspan)
2 1/4 c. flour (she says cake flour, I used AP flour)
1 tbls. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 tsp Key Lime juice (this is different from Dorie’s recipe, she uses 1/2 tsp. lemon extract)
1 tsp. rum extract (Dorie’s recipe doesn’t use that at all)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the lime juice and the rum extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Pour into cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 stick of butter, softened
1 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Key Lime juice to taste (2 tsp. for a mild, child friendly taste, the more you add the tangier it gets)
Whip together until well blended.
The decorations are some left over frosting with enough cocoa powder put in to make it dark and thick. Piped it with a frosting bag, and a 4 Wilton decorator tip.
A thick steak seared and hissed as it went on to a hot broiler pan, the corn on the cob boiled in a sauce pan on the stove. It was a simplistic meal, the steak was only salt and pepper seasoned, the salad had Asagio Ranch. He’d given me a new cook book and I looked through it while I waited for dinner to cook, he messed around on his computer. The DVD I got him was waiting to be played, 3:10 To Yuma.
He held me and told me that he loved me, and how every argument and bit of trouble we’d ever had was all worth it. There was kissing, and bad jokes and chuckling.
He snuck up behind me as I was doing the cupcakes. You wouldn’t think a man that tall could sneak up on you, but he’s very good at it.
He’s the perfect man for me. Happy Valentine’s Day D.
A water bath? There it was, mocking me and my rather incomplete set of baking pans and dishes. Where in the world was I gonna get a pan big enough to hold even my smallest springform pan? Oh sure, there was one at the store, but with no room in the budget to spare this month, no way was I gonna make a case for getting a pan for the sole purpose of holding a cheesecake, hah! Right then… ya know, on Myth Busters the other day they made a balloon out of foil, why not a roasting pan? Try to follow the logic here…
You can’t really use tape on something you’re gonna put in the heat, but if we scrunch the layers of foil up the right way (of course they ain’t the wide foil, ugh) and put it on the baking sheet… It managed to hold the water well enough, and the cheesecake was on!
It ain’t the fanciest food processor, but it does manage to have two speeds and a blade, so the gingersnap crumbs got all nice. Y’all love me, which is why we ain’t gonna speak about how I read it wrong first and ended up with 20 gingersnaps and two sticks of melted butter. Ew. Beating the dyslexia back with a whip and a chair, I figured it out and made a nice little crust. Most of the gingersnaps made it into the crust, only a few brave little ones sacrificed themselves to my gingersnap obsession.
The batter was so easy to make, it was like a little cheesecake party! What had me fearing I was gonna be stressed, ended up being fun. Ain’t it pretty?
D ain’t a big fan of cooked apples in pies and such, so I used the apple butter variation. It ain’t nothing, you put some apple butter in the batter after it’s in the pan, and swirl it around with a knife. The apple butter is heavy, so you gotta swirl and hope for the best really.
It looks like a cheesecake don’t it? It’s the first one I ever made, and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s very tasty, and I’m doing a dance to know I can make cheesecakes now! The only crack in the cheesecake was a little one when my thumb poked it too hard taking it out of the oven. Who knew, the redneck water bath worked! Could eat half of this cheesecake by myself. Dorie Greenspan, I love you!
Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)
To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.
To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.
Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.
Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.
Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.
It all started off well, there was confidence in my stride and a spring in my step as I marched into the kitchen. “Who needs cook books?” I announced, grabbing things out of the fridge with abandon as I set out to make a healthy, tasty meal from what was laying around. Canned salmon, leafy greens, potato flakes (that’s right y’all, I love instant potato flakes and keep them around so there), some corn on the cob all happily jumped in bowls and pans with the sort of cheerful smiles you like in your supper ingredients. The salmon patties are fried in a very small amount of olive oil, cooked slowly over a low medium heat so they get nice and crunchy without needing lots of hot oil. The recipe below is close to what I did, it’s not a very exact thing so whatever you like will work. The corn on the cob was plain old boiled, and the salad… Ahhh, yum!
It’s simple, but it was perfect. A few leaves of romaine, a few leaves of spinach, walnuts, cranberries, golden raisins, green onions, and pieces of
avocado tossed with Paula Deen’s Vidalia Onion And Poppy Seed dressing. A little flax seed sprinkled over the whole thing, and it was ready to serve. It was the kind of salad you end up being sad when it’s gone, and the main course starts feeling neglected. Fortunately, those little fishies made a come back with style!
1 can of salmon, three green onions chopped, seven Ritz crackers crushed up, somewhere between a half cup and a cup of instant mashed potato flakes, some dill, some pepper, and two eggs. Mix it all together, make small patties, and fry them in a little olive oil for a while on each side until they’re crisp and golden to dark brown. Very tasty.
Then came the world’s ugliest cake. After dinner, D and me got a sweet craving and I went rummaging. There was a mocha cake in the fridge, a batter I’d been experimenting with and never ended up putting together and frosting. Feeling lazy, I grabbed a can of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting out of the fridge as well and sliced up some strawberries. The cake was too thin on the outside, so I cut circles out of the middle and sliced them in half to make four layers. The frosting was too cold, the cake was moist from the fridge and when I tried to frost it the whole thing fell apart! Stuck it together anyway.The strawberries went between each layer on top of the frosting.
Is that not the ugliest cake you’ve ever seen? This was after it slid around and fell over half way. It was so tasty!
What else could these strawberries become? The shortcake recipe is simple, and I only made a few changes to it. Grated a small bit of lemon zest into the dough, and I used skim milk instead of the half and half. It didn’t make much of a difference in texture, but a lot in the fat. The butter technique is the best! She says frozen, mine was in the fridge and it grated without any issues. Didn’t brush it with egg white either, don’t really want shiny biscuits. The original recipe was longer, but I didn’t follow the diretions about the strawberries. It was the usual sugar and fruit thing, and that’s often too blandly sweet for me. Instead, I took about a pound and a half of the strawberries, and sliced them all. Half of them I put some sugar on and put aside, the other half I used for the sauce. About a cup of low acid orange juice, a half cup sugar (your guess is as good as mine on the amount of sugar, it’s up to you), and the juice of half of a lemon with some zest went into a saucepan and simmered until the sugar was dissolved. Then the other half of the strawberries went into the sauce pan, and it all simmered for a good 20 minutes to blend. A few tablespoons of water and some cornstarch were mixed together and put into the sauce, and boiled until it was a thick, tasty sauce. It’s very sunny tasting, not very tart but enough to be cheerfull and upbeat instead of heavy and more of the same.
To put them together, the biscuits were split, and I put sauce on the bottom half, topped it with the sugared strawberries, and then put the whipped cream on the top. The top of the biscuit went on, and I repeated the sauce, strawberries, and whipped cream. Wanted to use real whipped cream, but we were taking them to D’s mom’s, and I was worried the whipped cream wouldn’t do well through dinner. That’s right, it’s Cool Whip darn it! D says the first picture is his favourite, because it looks like a puppy. (This is where we nod and smile at D, as if he was making sense.) (Ok, so it does kinda look like a puppy.)
2 cups all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, frozen
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup half and half
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and 3 Tbs. sugar in a medium bowl. Grate 2 Tbs. of the butter on the coarse holes of a box grater into dry ingredients; toss to coat. Repeat grating and tossing with remaining butter. Combine egg and half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Toss with a fork to form large clumps. Lightly press clumps into a ball; add a teaspoon more half-and-half to the bowl if dough won’t come together.
Turn dough onto work surface; press into an 8-by-4- to 5-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 squares, placing them 1 inch apart on a small baking sheet. (Can be refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) Before baking, brush tops with optional egg white for a particularly attractive sheen. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool until warm, 5 to 10 minutes.
This shortbread recipe was originally featured in the USA WEEKEND article Very Berry Shortcake Simplified on July 13, 2003, written by Pam Anderson.