Food Jammer Christopher Martin creates an edible Canadian Shield
The idea behind the Canadian Shield Shortbread cookies is to draw a parallel between the changing nature of the Earth’s mantle and the changing nature of food. The shield is a beautiful and immense record of the Earth’s ancient surface-forming process in Canada today. Although seemingly permanent, it is not, considering the planet’s entire history.
Food is not very permanent. It gets eaten all the time, and regenerates into food for microorganisms. It then returns to soil, possibly as a layer of sediment, which could become the future of the mantle. The buckling and curved layers of molten rock, sedimentary rock, and intrusions all relate to different creatures, plant, material, and silt that existed in different eras before us humans. We come from the earth, as does our food, and as each layer of the shortbread was cooked with heat and some pressure, so was the Canadian Shield.
The Shortbread cookies look so much like bacon, though. A dessert cookie bacon. Surely Canadian Bacon is just as iconic to the country’s foodways as the Canadian Shield is to the country’s landscape and geography.
Begin with your favourite shortbread cookie dough recipe.
Fundamentally shortbread is: butter, flour, sugar, and salt.
Layers: green tea, pink peppercorns, grated lemon rind, another variety of green tea, chocolate powder, ground sunflower seeds, ground pumpkin seeds, gluten free wheat flour, unsalted butter, rice flour with some cornstarch, regular gluten wheat flour, icing sugar with granulated sugar, and salt.
The moisture in the butter keeps the dough together.
Try experimenting with low-gluten flours such as rice flour. You can add cornstarch or tapioca flour. This provides a crumbly, dry consistency to the dough so that, when cooked, it draws the flavour out of the butter.
For the different coloured layers, try adding the dry ingredients (chocolate powder, ground sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) to the flour before mixing in with the butter, each separately.
For the wet ingredients, you can add them into your individual layers after the butter and the flour are mixed.
Roll out layers between two sheets of parchment paper. Layers can also be built up like clay, using your fingers to pad down and smooth out the curves.
Parchment paper is your friend in this case, all the way through, cooking to serving.
After you amass all of your flavour layers, take a sharp knife and slice thin segments of the shortbread. Place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake at low temperature.
Serve slightly warm.
Christopher Martin is co-host of the Food Network television program, Food Jammers. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and spent a year in Italy as part of his education. That is where he developed a love for fresh bread and coffee. When not cooking, he enjoys making drawings, paintings, and sculpture about abstract imaginary worlds. His work has been seen in New York, Tokyo, Baltimore, and Toronto.