different types of shortbread?
i would like to make shortbread at home. i buy the Walker's shortbread and prefer that thick, dense, grittier bar form to the thin shortbreads i've had, or the ones that collapse almost instantly when you take a bite. what would be the differences in recipes that would yield these results?
is the Walker's representative of traditional scottish shortbread? i've searched for some recipes on this site and wasn't sure what the results would be like, and would appreciate some help. thanks!
The difference in sandy-ness (a crumbly shortbread is more sandy, as it were) seems to arise from how much you handle or compress the dough - the more you do, the less sandy it remains. A very sandy shortbread would be difficult to ship or package. For my church choir bake sale, I make a jelly roll tray of each type, and both sell out.
re: Karl S
The secret ingredient for "sandy" shortbread is to substitute rice flour for some of the wheat flour. Not much, or it won't hold together. The recipe mentioned below is one of these. This was something I stumbled across when I was working on duplicating a shortbread crust for some lilikoi pie I'd had on Kauai (which I'm STILL working on, 20+ years later!).
I really like the recipe at Epicurious for Gingered Shortbread. It uses rice flour as part of the flour and gives it an excellent texture. The recipe is very buttery and gingery. I have had people hoarde it and not share with spouses.
Sandy vs. dense can also be a matter of cornstarch...sandy shortbread recipes frequently call for some cornstarch along with the butter, sugar, and flour. My standby shortbread is more of a ratio than a recipe--
1 stick softened butter (salted or unsalted)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (powdered, superfine, or even light brown)
vanilla or almond flavoring
Stir sugar into softened butter; if using brown sugar, beat until sugar begins to dissolve. Stir in vanilla or almond, then stir in flour. Press/pat firmly into a thick round and score lightly into wedges. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges (brown sugar will yield a darker shortbread, of course). You can add chopped nuts or mini chips or grated chocolate to the dough if you like, or ice it after baking. Let it cool slightly before cutting along the scored lines.
You will also find that recipes for Oatmeal Shortbread produce a denser product, equally delicious.