Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Polenta shortbreads with strawberries and cream

For those who have a fear of baking, these shortbread are such a success story. The only things you have to do are measure accurately and make sure the butter is cold. The dough comes together like a dream and is really easy to work with. Polenta is a great addition, giving a gorgeous buttery crunch. The biscuits are the perfect companion for strawberries and cream.

  • 150g plain flour
  • 80g polenta.
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 120g cold butter, cut into cubes.
  • 1 egg
  • 30ml olive oil.
Preheat an oven to 160 degrees/gas 3. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse again, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. In a small bowl beat the egg and olive oil together with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a ball of dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently roll out the dough to a thickness of three to four millimetres. Cut the dough with a scone cutter. I used a nine centimetre cutter which yielded 18 shortbreads. Place the shortbreads on a lined baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container until needed.

Strawberry filling
  • Large punnet of strawberries (about 500g)
  • 200ml of cream, whipped to soft peak stage
  • Icing sugar to taste
  • A few sprigs of mint
Remove six large strawberries from the punnet and set aside. Hull the remaining strawberries and chop into little chunks. Fold the chopped strawberries into the whipped cream and add icing sugar to taste. Return the strawberry cream to the fridge until needed. This can be done four hours ahead and the flavour improves with time.

To assemble 
I allow three shortbreads per portion. Put a good dollop of strawberry cream on six shortbreads. Put another shortbread biscuit on top, followed by another layer of strawberry cream, followed by shortbread. Decorate using the reserved strawberries and a sprig of mint, finish off with a good dredge of icing sugar.

(A tip from the caterer's kitchen - put a half teaspoon of the strawberry cream on the plate before putting on the first shortbread, this stops the shortbread sliding around the plate.)