A while back, I wrote about making lemon curd and a couple of people asked, “That’s nice, but what about the shortbread?”
If you’re looking for a quick cookie fix, something to go with fresh fruit perhaps, or you’re caught off guard again by the kid’s bake sale who forgot to tell you is due tomorrow morning, well, this might be your cookie.
As easy as 1-2-3.
Shortbread is one of the simplest recipes to learn and make and it uses ingredients you most likely have on-hand.
At its simplest, it’s one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.
1 – 2 – 3.
You can also add little extras to dress it up.
- a bit of sugar sprinkled across the top
- the zest and juice of a lemon
- a few drops of vanilla or almond extract
- a small handful of chopped nuts
You get the idea.
Remember, use the best ingredients you can reasonably afford.
I use organic all-purpose flour. Some people use 75% all-purpose flour and 25% rice flour. Or, 75% all-purpose flour and 25% corn starch. And that does lighten the dough up a bit. Personally, I like the taste and texture better with just 100% all-purpose flour but your mileage may vary.
Although, I have used 25% Einkorn flour, a European very low-gluten and non-hybridized brand of flour, and it turns the result more towards a shortbread/shortcake combination. (I like to use Einkorn for scones, if you’re curious, usually when the store puts it on big sale. You should try it!)
You can use just a bowl and a fork to make this or you can, as I usually do, use a hand mixer. Either way, start by creaming the sugar and the butter together well. Then gradually mix in the flour. It is supposed to be a crumbly mix, don’t worry. If the butter melts too much and the dough starts to pull together into a ball on its own, put the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
You can roll it out into a rectangle (use a non-stick surface!), score it, and dock it with a fork.
This is the traditional cookie route.
You want to cut it into individual cookies right after you pull it out of the oven.
I also like to pour the mixture into a cake pan and using a piece of parchment or wax paper (so it doesn’t stick to my fingers) press it down until the top is smooth. Then, score it into a wheel (like a pizza or cake), and dock the surface with a fork. Same as before, cut it into pieces right after it comes out of the oven.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°F or until the edges and top starts to brown.
Then let it cool.
This is one of those foods that improve the longer you can resist diving into it. Yes, of course, eat one piece while it’s still a bit warm because it is that good and you might regret it if you don’t and chef’s privilege, right? But let the rest cool to room temperature or even overnight.
Serve it with some fruit, spread some lemon curd, or just as simple cookies.
For posterity, here’s my standard recipe.
As easy to make as 1-2-3. How can something this delicious, easy to make, and affordable be so good?
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter room temperature or softened but not melted
- 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy.
Gradually add the flour until you have a crumbly dough.
Firmly press the dough into a desired shape for baking. (If rolling it out, press it down into a rough rectangle first and roll on a piece of parchment or wax paper on top of it to keep the pin from sticking.)
Optionally, sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar across the top of the dough.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until the edges and a bit of the top starts to brown. (If you've kept it quite thick you may need a few minutes more to completely cook the middle.)
Cut into desired shapes and let cool.