My mother was much more interested in being indoors running the home. She was always at her happiest when unexpected visitors arrived and were persuaded to stay for dinner. Somehow, from the depths of her larder (which was always bulging) she would rustle up enough food to feed the proverbial army. Just before she died two years ago, I asked her why she had been so 'progressive' teaching me, a boy in the 1950's, to sew buttons and name tapes, amongst other things, on clothing. She looked somewhat surprised and puzzled at the question and, to my disillusionment, told me it was because she had hated doing them herself. Mothers!
That was not the case when it came to cooking and the three of us loved to bake and baste together so, that by the time I reached my teens, I was able to cook a complete meal from start to finish. At one of my mother's dinner parties I remembered an amazing stack of ultra thin shortbreads, with layers of clotted cream and rasberries between each one. A final decoration of raspberries and icing sugar on top left an unshakeable image of culinary delight in my mind and one that I had intended to recreate for years.
More disappointment when Mother told me that I'd imagined it, that she'd never made anything like it and it would be impossible to create wafer like, plate sized shortbreads - if only because it would be impossible to lift or cut them without them breaking. I was determined to prove her wrong and, every so often, she would give me that look that mothers do when I told her of my latest failed attempt.
The photographs illustrate the procedure for my 'wafer stack'
Finally, yesterday, I achieved success, albeit they were much smaller than planned. Now they are individual sized portions but perhaps better for that.
Here is the recipe, which couldn't be simpler:
2oz icing sugar
6 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
*Put all ingredients into a food processor and whizz until the mix forms a soft ball
*If you just want to make 'ordinary' shortbread then press into a flat tin or on a baking sheet with the back of a fork
*Bake for 15 minutes at 180C until firm and only just beginning to colour
*Remove from oven and immediately cut into pieces but don't remove from baking sheet until completely cool
If you want to try my stack the process is a bit different and a little more time consuming:
*Make as before but instead of pressing down the mixture, roll out as thinly as possible. This won't be thin enough!
*Cut out rounds - I used a jam jar as I found that if the circles were anything larger they were impossible to lift without them breaking up (Mother did know best!)
*Place on a baking sheet and don't worry if the rounds are now an odd shape. Flatten with fingers into a round shape making as thin as possible I made 24 altogether from the quantities of ingredients above
*Bake for 5 minutes only at 180C, leave to cool on sheet before lifting
For the filling, use any fruit you fancy. Here, I have used blueberries and strawberries.
Cut up into pieces and mix with a thick cream - I used sour cream (smetena). Decorate with a 'clean' piece of fruit