Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

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I’ve been playing with browned butter and rye flour over the last couple of weeks.  Sometimes, when I get something in my head, I just have to iterate until whatever the seed that’s been planted either blossoms or dies out.

While I’m not nearly done with either browned butter or rye flour, I thought this little seedling was worth sharing.

You all know I totally crush on Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perlman.  Her presence on Instagram and Instastories has only made my grow creepier.

A few weeks ago, her recipe for peach shortbread popped up and I knew this was a great place to start. This time of year, summer fruit is just too good to not…The recipe already had browned butter as an ingredient (though regular butter would be just fine if you were in a pint for time).  I added in the toasted rye flour after hearing about the technique on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street podcast. I used one-part toasted rye flour to three parts all-purpose.

As for the fruit, I used what I already had on hand, specifically: a peach, a nectarine and a couple of cups of blueberries.  I didn’t touch the stone fruit before slicing and fanning them onto the shortbread base,  but I did reduce the blueberries so that they were dark and jammy and wouldn’t add too much moisture to the shortbread.

Plumbs would be gorgeous and delicious in this recipe.  So would crisp and tart apples later in the fall. Oohh–or persimmons (note to self). And, just think of the possibilities with roasted strawberries and rhubarb in the spring.

While it takes a planning ahead to brown the butter and toast the flour, this recipe pulls together easily and would be a smash at an end-of-summer BBQ or in a lunchbox.  While they were great they day they were made, I think these summery bars were even better the next day.  Just store them in the fridge in an airtight container.

Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS rye flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)–or nectarines or plumbs (you’ll probably need three of these).  If you go the blueberry route, use three-four cups and reduce first.

Directions

to brown your butter

  1. Cut up cold butter and add to a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Place over medium-low heat.  Allow butter to melt and then foam (it’ll make an odd squeaking noise).  Once the foam clears, stir constantly, bringing up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.  It will begin to darken and smell nutty (best smell ever).  When it reaches a light brown, remove from heat and strain into a heat-proof bowl over a fine-meshed strainer.
  3. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or in fridge.

for shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9X12 pan with oil.
  2. Add rye flour to large frying pan and set over medium heat.  Stir constantly for 4-6 minutes until the flour smells strongly of popcorn.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a couple of minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and flours with a whisk (this should help the rye flour cool down completely).
  4. Cut up brown butter into 3/4-1-inch pieces.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, forks and/or your fingers, blend first the egg and then the browned butter into the flour mixture.  The butter should be pea sized or a little smaller.  The mixture will be crumbly.
  6. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the pan, pressing it in firmly.
  7. Tile your thinly sliced peaches (or nectarines or plumbs or a combo) across the based in a single layer.
  8. Scatter remaining crust crumbs across the top in an even layer.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until top is slightly brown and the edges take on a little color (go a couple of minutes longer if you like your shortbread well done like I do).
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.
  11. If you have the time (and will power), store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper in the fridge over night.

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