Bake the Book: Strawberries, Poached Rhubarb, and Shortbread Cookies


[Photograph: Djamel Dine Zitout]

Soft, sandy, and flavored with vanilla bean, these little shortbread rounds from Frenchie are served with rhubarb and strawberries for a springtime treat.The cookies are excellent on their own with a bit of fresh cream, but feel free to drown them in macerated fruit.

Tips: The shortbread cookies are pretty straightforward; the only ingredient that gave us pause was the 1/2 cup of "fine semolina" alongside regular flour. We took this to mean "semolina flour", which can be found in the baking aisle. Bob's Red Mill makes it, which we suggest because it comes in smaller sizes. Unless you use semolina flour often (like in pasta and bread), there's no need to buy a huge bag here. Also, the vanilla pod you're instructed to scrape out and save for another use after making the cookie dough can be used to macerate the strawberries.

Tweaks: We waited as long as we possibly could, but this long winter has made rhubarb impossible to find by this time in April. You could wait a week or so for it to come into season, but in the meantime, here's what we did:

Since the rhubarb and strawberry is meant to be used as a garnish for the crumbly shortbread cookies, we skipped poaching the rhubarb and instead macerated the chopped strawberries in sugar (as directed) but added the lemon zest meant for the rhubarb. It added the tartness that the rhubarb stalks would have provided to the dish. Having a little bowl of macerated, seasoned strawberries makes it easy to heap spoonful after spoonful on to shortbread cookies. They'll be gone before you know it.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Frenchie to give away.