Hungarian Shortbread (adapted from Julia, Gale, and Jane)
makes 24 pieces, measuring 1¾” x 3”
Note: This recipe is adapted to fit an 8” x 11” fluted rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom.
For the filling-
1 pound rhubarb, rinsed, leaves removed, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ vanilla, split
1 tablespoon minced, candied ginger (optional)
Place the rhubarb, sugar, and water in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan then add the pod. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens. This should take between 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and set the vanilla bean pod aside for another use, if you wish. Add the minced, candied ginger, if using. Let the compote cool completely before covering it and storing it in the refrigerator. This can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. You will only use 1 cup of the compote to fill the shortbread. Any additional can be served alongside the cookies.
For the shortbread-
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (half pound) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 small orange
2 large egg yolks
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at high speed until light. Gradually add the sugar, beating on medium until well incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated into the butter, sugar, and yolks.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes, until firm. The dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to a month, if you wish. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.
Lightly butter the tart pan and dust with flour, carefully knocking out the excess. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove one portion of dough from the freezer (or fridge if it was thawed.) Grate the dough using a box grater, or place the dough through the shredding disc of a food processor. Sprinkle the dough (generous handfuls) over the bottom of the pan. Lightly pat the dough to ease it into the corners of the pan and create an even layer. Retrieve the rhubarb compote from the fridge and measure out 1 cup. Using a small offset spatula, spread a smooth layer over the dough. Grate the remaining portion of dough or shred it using the food processor. Lightly scatter the dough over the compote layer, taking care not to press it down.
Place the tart pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake the shortbread on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven until golden, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Let the cookies cool completely. Carefully remove the tart from the pan and use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut bars measuring 1¾” x 3”. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Baked cookies can also be frozen for up to a month.
RHUBARB 'SCRUNCH' PIE
makes one open-faced pie, serves 6-8
For the pastry- This will make enough pastry for two open-faced pies; wrap and freeze half for another time.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
generous dash of rhubarb bitters
¼ cup ice water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they form small pea-sized pieces. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, cider vinegar, bitters, and ice water. Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture. Add the egg/liquid mixture to the well; toss together using your fingertips until the mixture forms a shaggy dough. Turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper. Divide the dough in half; wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out. (If not planning on using the second portion of dough in the next day or so, double wrap it in plastic and freeze for a future bake.) On a lightly floured sheet of parchment, roll out one portion of dough into a 10” x 15” rectangle or into a 12” circle. Refrigerate the dough while you prepare the filling.
For the filling-
4 cups sliced rhubarb (¼” thick) (make sure to rinse the stalks and remove the leaves)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
zest and juice of one small orange
½ teaspoon vanilla
egg wash made from one egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of milk or cream
sanding sugar or sliced almonds for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the sliced rhubarb in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, tapioca starch, and orange zest. Add the sugar/starch mixture to the sliced rhubarb; turn to coat using a rubber spatula. Add the orange juice and vanilla. Retrieve the dough from the fridge. Leaving a 1½” border, spoon the filling onto the center of the pastry, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Turn up the edges of the pastry, creating a ruffled edge all the way around. Brush the edge with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar or with sliced almonds. Slide the pie (still on the parchment) onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate (or preferably freeze) for 20 minutes before baking on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, covering the pie with a sheet of parchment for the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. The rhubarb should be tender, the pastry golden brown. Set aside to cool before slicing. Any leftovers should be covered and refrigerated.