Today the pre-Thanksgiving production at Bakery Normand got underway with our all-butter Scottish Shortbread. This rich, lemony shortbread is delicious with tea or coffee and will keep for weeks if stored in a cool and dry place. The unique feature of our shortbread is the use of a hand-carved wooden stamp (in Germany these stamps are called "Modeln") to imprint the top surface of the pastry with a scotch thistle motif. While the imprint does not make the shortbread taste any better, it certainly elevates it to a giftable culinary work of art.
"Modeln" were used throughout the Middle Ages as a quick and easy way to replicate often complex images onto Gingerbreads, Marzipans, and other pastries. While many "Modeln" depicted religious themes, some showed floral or heraldic motifs. Some "Modeln" were proprietary in nature and were used by bakers as a special marking to distinguish their unique product. One of the simplest forms of branding is the use by bakers of various cuts and scoring patterns to decorate the tops of bread loaves. We use these varied patterns today for the sake of variety, but in the past, when communal ovens were commonly used in villages, it was important that each household score their breads with a unique pattern to differentiate ownership of the finished product from their neighbor's breads.
We will be using many wooden molds during the holiday season. Aside from the detailed effect they lend to our baked goods, they are beautiful objects in and of themselves.