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Photograph: Martha Williams

Sarah Levy


At Sarah’s Pastries & Candies, shortbread is always in the mix: strawberry-rhubarb shortbread for the summer, cranberry shortbread in the winter and, in the fall, this cinnamon-laced apple shortbread, developed by the shop’s head pastry chef, Rafael Ornelas. If you ask Levy, a filled shortbread is a confection with unlimited appeal. “It’s easier than making pie and more portable than a cupcake,” she says. We encourage cupcake fanatics to try this recipe and see if they agree.

Find apples at the Oak Park farmers’ market, 460 Lake St, Oak Park; Saturdays 7am–1pm through Oct 30.

Rafael’s Apple Shortbread

For the shortbread:
6 sticks unsalted butter, softened
6 egg yolks
3 cups sugar
6 cups flour
1 t. baking powder
1/3 t. salt

For the apple filling:
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
7 T. corn starch
4 pounds apples, peeled and cored
4 lemons, juiced
1/2 stick butter
2 t. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

1. Make the shortbread: Beat the butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and the sugar and beat until the sugar dissolves. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. Remove the dough from the mixer, divide in half and let chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for two hours. Using a food processor, grind one half of the dough into small pieces and set aside. Roll out the remaining half of the dough to half-inch thickness and press it into the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool.
2. Make the apple filling: Combine the sugars and corn starch and set aside. Slice the apples into quarter-inch slices, toss with lemon juice, and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat and sauté the apples. After about five minutes, add the sugar mixture, the cinnamon and the nutmeg to the pan. Continue cooking until the apples are tender and the juices have thickened. Let cool.
3. Assemble and bake the shortbread: Pour the (now cool) filling over the (now cool) shortbread. Sprinkle the raw shortbread pieces on top. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

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