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Shortbread is not called shortbread because it is short (as opposed to tall). It is “short” because there is almost no gluten development because you’ve so thoroughly coated the flour granules with fat and there is no added liquid to activate the gluten. As a result, you have a delightful, buttery, very crumbly, crunchy cookie or crust. Love it!
- 8 oz . unsalted butter, , softened
- 1/2 cup 10X powdered sugar, (about 2 oz)
- *2 cups cake flour, (about 7 oz)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl (stand mixer or otherwise), cream together butter, sugar and salt.
- Slowly work in flour until well combined.
- Roll out to 1/4" to 1/2 " and cut with cutters. Or, traditionally, pat it into a greased cake pan, score it with a fork into wedges, and bake.
- Break the shortbread apart on the score lines. You can even roll it into balls, roll the balls in sugar (or cinnamon sugar, or cardamom sugar or.....).
- Flatten slightly before baking with the bottom of a glass sprayed with some pan spray.
- Any way you make them, bake at 350 degrees, F, until light golden brown and delicious. The time will vary depending on your method and the thickness of the dough.
- Watch them closely, and take notes on your baking times.
*Replace 1/3 to 1/2 cup flour with an equal amount of rice flour or corn starch for a more crumbly texture. Use all purpose flour in place of cake flour for a more sturdy cookie.
Substitute 2 tablespoons of Dutch process cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of flour (or 1 each of flour and corn starch/rice flour). Add a wee splash of vanilla.
Add some finely microplaned citrus zest--lemon, tangelo, whatever you like. For this size recipe, I'd start with the zest of 2 lemons for a lemon shortbread or 1 orange for orange. Some like their citrus more or less assertive, so experiment and take notes.
Go very lightly with herbs here--you can always add more after you taste it; it's really hard to take them out once they're in, though. Try some tarragon, mint, thyme, lavender blossoms--whatever sounds good. Make sure the herbs are finely minced. Add them to taste.
To Use as Tart Crust
Roll the dough out to your desired thickness, fit it into your tart pan and then trim the top. Freeze the lined tart pan, uncovered, until completely hard. Then prick all over with a sharp knife and bake at 350F. Freezing will keep the sides from slumping down. To further guard against slumpage, line the tart with parchment and weight it down with beans during the first fifteen minutes of baking. If the bottom of the tart starts to burble up, even w/the knife pricks, just press it back into place with a heat-proof spatula. Make sure to check early on, because the spatula trick won't work once the dough is too firm.