Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I decided not to purchase eggs anymore*, and the chemistry of baking requires that I become more creative. I'm not interested in commercial egg replacements, and I've had mixed results with other means of substitute (ground flax seeds and water, plain yogurt**, bananas, etc).

There are, fortunately, some recipes that are naturally egg-free and do not require tinkering. Shortbread (and its many variations) is one of the easiest and most delicious cookies out there. There are few basic ingredients-- flour, butter, and sugar, roughly in a ratio of 4:2:1-- so it's important that they are of good quality. You will probably want to add a pinch of salt, possibly vanilla extract. For variety, throw in some chocolate bits, orange peal, etc. It's an extremely flexible dough in every sense of the word. Roll it out and cut into shapes, form into a round, or just press it into the bottom of a pan to be cut after baking. Scoring is optional, but fork pricks are not. You generally cook it slowly at a low heat, around 300-325 degrees, until it's a pleasant golden color.

I tried adding corn starch to this batch, and 2/3 of a dark Belgian chocolate bar. The corn starch, which some recipes substitute for 1/4 of the flour while others just call for adding it in equal portion to the butter, is supposed to give it a more delicate flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you use good butter, it's difficult to screw up shortbread. And it goes very well with black tea.

*I also tried using
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, but you you know what? it's pretty easy to believe.

** I recently made really lovely, moist chocolate chip cookies by substituting yogurt for eggs in the standard Tollhouse recipe.


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