Lemon Short Bread with Creme Fraiche and Macerated Berries

24 Jan
Lemon Short Bread with Creme Fraiche and Macerated Berries

I’m seem to always be talking lately of cutting calories, trying to eat healthier, and high protein diets. Yet I can’t help but try to satiate my sweet tooth, which isn’t nearly as demanding as my wife’s. We gotta do something about this.

I had stumbled upon (not using stumbleupon) a recipe for creme fraiche. I’ve seen it made in the earlier years of my kitchen career, as it seemed every menu had creme fraiche on it at the time, though I had never made it myself. I could buy it, after all, or just use sour cream.

But I was inspired, so I whipped up a small batch. It’s surprisingly easy to do. I also decided to make my own ricotta, but there will be more on that later.

So, as I was testing the creme fraiche near its completion, I pondered on some uses for it. My sweet tooth started singing to me, with delicate whispers of fresh fruit or berries with a tender, not too sweet pastry. Thinking of a fairly light, summery dessert (I know it’s winter for most of you, but it’s 80 degrees here) that isn’t too heavy on the calories, the lemon short bread idea came to mind. Granted, it’s not health food, but some fresh berries, a dollop of creme fraiche, and a little lemon short bread can’t be that high in calories, right?

I’ll find out before the end of this entry.  At least there will be antioxidants 😉

Start the creme fraiche before bedtime, as it will take 8-24 hours to finish, depending on your preference. The longer it sits, the more tart and sour cream like it gets.

Lemon Short Bread with Creme Fraiche and Macerated Berries

For the Creme Fraiche

Makes 2 cups


  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk

I can’t find buttermilk in a store that’s less than a quart


  1. Stir together the ingredients.
  2. Place in a glass container. Cover with cheese cloth and use a rubber band to attach.
  3. Place on the counter and let set for 8 to 24 hours. Refrigerate when ready.

    Creme fraiche after 24 hours

    Creme fraiche after 24 hours

lemony tastiness

For Lemon Short Bread

Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible, p.359 by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Actually, I changed it quite a bit, so perhaps the word “inspired” would be more appropriate.

Makes about 10


  • 4 ounces of unsalted butter, cold
  • 5 ounces of cake flour
  • 5 ounces of all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) of salt
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 egg for making an egg wash

save the egg wash for up to a week if you like


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once sifted, add the lemon zest to the bowl.

    Dry ingredients sifted

    Dry ingredients sifted

  3. Cut the cold butter into small pieces. Add to the bowl. Using your hands, cut the butter into the flour until it somewhat resembles the texture of cornmeal. Try not to leave any large pieces of butter.

    Cornmeal like consistency

    Cornmeal like consistency

  4. Refrigerate the flour mixture for about 10 minutes. Ensuring that the ingredients are as cold as possible keeps the tiny butter pieces intact, which actually adds to the leavening power of the baking soda and baking powder. Butter is about 15-20% water which, when heated, turns to steam and acts as a leavener for pastries.
  5. When the flour mixture is sufficiently chilled, make a well in the center for the liquid. Add the buttermilk and heavy cream. Mix until just barely combined.
  6. An ice cream scoop works well here. Alas, I don’t have one, so I just used a quarter cup measure to scoop rounds of the dough onto a greased sheet pan. So go ahead and scoop them, trying to keep them as round as possible.

    Scoop onto a greased pan

    Scoop onto a greased pan

  7. When scooped, mix the egg with a little water. Brush thoroughly over the tops of the short breads. If desired, sprinkle a little textured sugar, also known as sanding sugar, over the tops if you have it.
  8. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning half way to ensure even cooking. Press gently to see if it springs back. The edges will brown slightly. Cool on a cooling rack.

    That one on the right? Yeah, I ate it already.

    That one on the right? Yeah, I ate it already.

huh huh rack

For Macerated Berries


  • Your favorite berries! I used strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of booze, such as dark rum, brandy, or Grand Marnier

\(o.o\)   |(o.o)|   (/o.o)/


  1. About 10 minutes before serving, combine the berries with the sugar and booze and mix thoroughly. If the berries are large, like strawberries, slice them up first.
  2. Cut a shortbread in half and place in a bowl. Spoon on macerated berries and top with creme fraiche. Enjoy!



I barely sat down before this was in my belly

I barely sat down before this was in my belly

I bought the buttermilk just so I could make the creme fraiche. But you can’t just buy two tablespoons, so I’ll be finding uses for it in the future. In fact, the shortbread recipe originally used just heavy cream, but I substituted half, as I thought it would go nicely with the lemon zest.

So why use cake flour and all purpose flour together? Cake flour adds a tenderness to the short bread. However, as cake flour is highly processed and stripped of the proteins that form gluten, it doesn’t hold its shape very well when being baked. The short breads would flatten out and be like weird and fluffy cookies. All purpose flour has the two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) that form together into gluten. Gluten is what provides structure to bread before it is baked. The same is true for the short bread, despite the fact that it isn’t mixed very much.

In case you’re wondering what provides structure to bread after it bakes, that would be gelatinized starch. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Oh, and that calorie count? Assuming you get ten short breads out of the batch, each is 168 calories. Two tablespoons of creme fraiche is 100 calories. A tablespoon of sugar, for the berries, is 48 calories. But I know you shared those berries with at least one person, right? So we’ll say 24. Grand total, 316 calories. Not bad, if you compare it to Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake, rolling it at 610 calories. Much tastier, too 😉

Wait, you’re not eating at Olive Garden, are you? For shame.

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Baking, Dessert, Food


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