Anyone who has spent any significant time with me knows that I am a big proponent of afternoon tea. I guess it's my English mother and my years living in England, but every afternoon, at around 4, should you happen by, you will be undoubtably be offered a cup of tea. I'm mad for just the right thing to go with that tea and am always on the prowl for good candidates.
Last week while I was on my apple brown Betty quest, I was perusing my beloved Richard Sax cookbook, "Classic Home Desserts" and stumbled upon this incredible recipe for "Grasmere Gingerbread" aka oatmeal shortbread squares. I knew, just by reading it, that I was going to love it, and sure enough, they're possibly the quintessential afternoon tea dainty. At least this afternoon they surely are.
Bursting with ginger, whole wheat flour and oatmeal, they're not too sweet but have a certain depth of flavor that's exactly what I'm looking for at mid-afternoon for a quick zing. Plus, they have that whole shortbread thing going on that reminds me of England and hence makes me feel cosy and cossited. I always think of oatmeal as being autumnal too, so they seem to be perfectly suited to an afternoon like this when I'm starting to notice the first twinges of colour in the leaves over the river. Hmmm, I may even be feeling a second cup of tea coming on.
Oatmeal Shortbread Squares (Grasmere Gingerbread)
makes 32 squares
1 1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 13 -x-9 inch baking pan. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, oats, ginger, cream of tartar and baking soda; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off until the mixture is crumbly.
Pat the dough into the prepared pan, pressing the surface with a floured fork until even. Bake until the center is set and the top is pale golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
Cool to lukewarm in the pan on a wire rack. While still warm, very carefully cut into 32 two-inch squares. Cool completely in the pan. Store the squares in an airtight container.