Shortbread the easy way
If anyone is up for yet another cookie recipe to complete their baking...
My sainted mother (from southwestern Ontario) got this recipe from a Scottish lady in the early 50's - it is infinitely expandable or divisible and works like a charm.
1 part sugar to 2 parts (salted) softened butter to 4 parts flour
("Parts" are dry cup measures - Mom's batch was 1 cup sugar to 2 cups butter - 1 lb - to 4 cups flour. I make half that, for a yield of 4 doz cookies).
Cn be mixed in a bowl with your hands or a wooden spoon (my Mom's way) or in a food processor (my way, just chuck everything in together, and let it rip until a dough is formed).
Form into desired cookie shapes (I make 3/4 in balls and flatten them to 1/4 inch thick) and bake on ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets at 325 deg F until just barely golden on the bottom and barely colored on top (15 mins appx for the ones I make).
Dough can be held overnight in fridge unbaked.
Can sub cornstarch or rice flour for 1/4 of the flour but this cookie is very short even with US all-purpose flour.
Simple and perfect.
Didn't know there was a "hard way" for shortbread! It's about the simplest cookie there is.
I use the recipe from the late-1970s Betty Crocker cookbook I have, but with the addition of a teaspoon of vanilla. That brings the number of ingredients to four. It's 1 1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, then 4 c. of flour (just mix in enough to be able to handle the dough and still be soft, even if it doesn't take all of it).
We have a big cookie sale at our church the first Saturday in December each year. This year, a week after knee surgery, I decided to make an abundance of little shortbread cookies for the sale. I had already doubled the batch, then lost my head and put in twice the amount of sugar I should have put in. I didn't realize what I'd done till I was mixing the butter & sugar and couldn't figure out why it was not mixing together like it normally does. When I realized it, there was nothing to do but go get more butter and double the recipe again. Turns out that amount of shortbread dough exceeds my mixer bowl's capacity, so I put it in a mixing bowl to mix the rest of the flour in by hand--but there was too much for even my biggest mixing bowl. I ended up kneading the last bit of flour in with a bench scraper on the counter. What a mess. I ended up only using like 2/3 of the dough and made around 500 of those little cookies. The rest of the dough is in the freezer to see if it can be thawed and used successfully.
I make the Grandma's shortbread recipe from the back of the Canada Corn Starch box, myself, and it's very similar to the recipe buttertart posted, except it obviously uses some cornstarch. I like the melt-away texture of those, but if I want the sandy, press-into-pan-and-cut shortbread, I use all AP flour. Just depends what kind of cookie you like. Shortbreads are the ultimate cookie for me - it's not Christmas without them. I just wish I could get better butter. Damn Canadian dairy subsidies.
The recipe you posted is exactly the one I use! I agree it's simply the best shortbread. I always make it for Xmas gifts, and everyone loves them.
I do substitute rice flour for 1/4 of the flour for that deliciously sandy-crisp texture.
One friend grabbed the gift of shortbread I made for her and said, "Ooh, it's your labor of love!" I said, "Yes, there is love in it."
Thanks, as far as I'm concerned this is it - (also make a Marion Cunningham recipe, from the Baking Book - "Helen Gustafson's shortbread" - 1 1/4 c ap flour, 1/4 c rice flour, 1/4 c sugar, 1 stick butter, process to dough, press in pan - I use 8x8 - to bake, 350 deg F for + - 25 mins, take out halfway through and dock with a wooden skewer for looks if nothing else) - but my Mom's recipe is the ne plus ultra. Brought it in to work (in NJ) today, along with currant sugar cookies, butter tart squares - put chocolate chips in those, my mother would have been revolted, chocolate is Not for Christmas, plus a light and a dark fruitcake and some Canadian cheddar which we always ate with fruitcake...20 people in the office, by 10:30 everything was gone.
Shortbread (as I expected) was the last to go - guess it doesn't look flashy enough.
Okay, please help buttertart.
My roommate just did a taste off between my shortbread and our Scottish friends shortbread, and hers won by a mile. It was melt in your mouth, slightly sandy and utterly delicious.
So I have questions.
Is it a very soft dough?
Is it better to sub the cornstarch for the melt in the mouth quality?
Surely there is some guarded Scottish secret you'd like to tell.