Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'Tis the Season For Shortbread- Beautiful, Buttery Shortbread

Call me the shortbread Queen!  There is an art to baking that perfect shortbread!  And, I've mastered it...
Thick, lightly golden, melt in your mouth shortbread... and only a few simple steps to keep in mind.

 The kitchen is filled with the wonderful scent of baking and batches and batches of the golden wedges cooling on every countertop.  Shortbreads are the perennial Christmas cookie and so easy to bake.  There are only five ingredients: butter, sugar, two types of flour and salt.  This recipe will make a 9" round, cut into 16 wedges.
1 3/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour (you could substitute cornstarch)
2/3 cup superfine sugar (also called berry sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (don't worry about the high heat, you will be baking the shortbread at 300 degrees).  I used a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom.  You can also use a 9" round cake pan.  If you use the cake pan, line the bottom with a round piece of ungreased parchment paper.  For either pan, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Mix the flours, all but 1 tablespoon of sugar, and salt in the bowl of your electric mixer.  Combine at low speed for about 5 seconds.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch squares and toss with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture.  Add the butter/flour mixture to the bowl.  Mix at low speed for approximately 3 minutes- the dough should be pale yellow and resemble damp crumbs.  Keep an eye- you don't want the dough to go past this stage if you want your shortbread to be tender.
Light and fluffy dough
Remove the bowl from the mixer and toss the dough lightly with your fingers, keeping it fluffy and loose.  Place half your crumbly mixture into the 9" tart or cake pan and tap lightly with your fingers, then heavily with  a second pan.  Add the rest of your mixture and repeat.  Smooth the top.  If using a cake pan, slide a knife between the dough and the pan to help unmold the dough onto the baking sheet.  If using a tart pan, it should come loose quite easily.

Place a two inch metal cutter in the center of the dough and cut out the center.  Place this piece to the side of the large round.  Replace the cutter in the middle.  It will help cook the shortbread evenly and conduct heat to the center of the dough.

Score the shortbread after 20 minutes in the oven
Place the shortbread in the oven and immediately lower your heat to 300 degrees.  Set your timer to 20 minutes.  At this point, remove the pan from the oven, using a sharp knife, score the shortbread into 16 wedges and, using a skewer, pierce the pieces throughout.  This is your chance to get creative!

Return the pan to the oven for approximately 40 minutes longer.  It should be pale golden... Slide the shortbread onto a cutting board, remove the cutter from the center and sprinkle the shortbread lightly with sugar.  Cut at the score marks and place the pieces on a wire rack.  Cool to room temperature for at least three hours or even overnight.  Wrap and store at room temperature for up to 7 days.



  1. Now these I did sample and they were wonderful with a cup of tea!

    1. Hi Nancy
      If you decide to try your hand at making shortbreads, consider adding dried cranberries- pretty good stuff!