Hi, everybody, and welcome back — a day late! I am so sorry! As an apology, I’ll share my secret recipe for traditional Scottish shortbread. It’s an easy recipe to remember, easy as 1-2-3: one part powdered sugar, two parts salted butter, and three parts flour (you can use gluten-free or whole wheat flour if you like).
There are some tricks to making shortbread. First is the salted butter. Some recipes say to use unsalted butter and then add in salt, but where’s the sense in that? Besides, added salt won’t blend into the dough nearly as well as the salt that’s naturally in the butter, and it can add an occasional crunchy bite to the finished cookie.
Another shortbread secret is flavoring the dough. Traditional Scottish shortbread includes only those three ingredients, but the butter used back when these cookies were invented contained a higher percentage of butterfat than its modern counterpart, and it’s the butterfat that gave the finished cookies their flavor. So if you can’t find a source for high fat butter, or if you really don’t want to push your diet too far, you can add in flavorings instead. A teaspoon or two of vanilla extract works nicely, or you can use almond extract, amaretto, cocoa, or any other flavoring that floats your boat. This is a versatile cookie, so use your imagination.
If you do prefer a crunchier cookie, you can substitute one part rice flour to three parts regular flour. (See the example below.)
So, for a pie pan of shortbread wedges:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup salted butter (two sticks), softened
2 cups flour (or 1 1/2 cups flour plus 1/2 cup rice flour)
Throw all the ingredients into a big bowl and add any liquid or powdered flavorings you like. (If you’re going to add something larger, such as nuts or chocolate chips, keep those out for now.) Use a dough cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly dough forms. (I’m told pulsing in a food processor works, too.) Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface (such as a cutting board) and knead it by hand for about five minutes. The “by hand” part is important, since the warmth of your hands will partially melt the butter and help the dough come together.
Some serious chefs claim that the best cookies result when the dough is stuck in the freezer for a while at this point, but I’ve never been that patient. So once the dough is smooth and flowing nicely, add in any larger ingredients here and knead a few moments longer, just enough to work them through the dough.
You can literally do anything to shape this dough. You can roll it out and cut it into shapes, you can roll little balls and flatten them with the base of a water glass for perfectly round cookies, or you can be lazy like me and just shape it into the bottom of a glass pie pan for a big round wedge.
Bake at 375F in a warmed oven until the cookie is nicely brown on top. Smaller cookies might be done in ten to fifteen minutes. My big circle takes more like forty minutes, then it can be cut into wedges, as in the photo above. Make sure to cool them at least a little before you bite into one. Cooled cookies can be decorated with chocolate, caramel, nuts, raisins, coconut, jam, buttercream frosting — you name it. Or you can just eat them. Either way, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re eating a cookie recipe that dates back to before the Regency era.
Thanks to the King Arthur Flour blog for the image, the link, and a very fine product that makes a seriously good cookie. Trust me here.
Apologies again for being so late and I hope the recipe helps. Now, let’s link. Click the cute little blue guy below to access the inLinkz tool. And everybody, if you sign up your link, please REMEMBER TO POST AN EXCERPT FROM YOUR STORY FOR US TO READ, okay?