Monday, March 15, 2010

Scottish Shortbread

As I've stated on this blog before, I just love shortbread and making it is not only one of the easiest type cookie bars to make but the variations are endless!
This is actually the first time I've made shortbread in a pan. Up to this point, I made shortbread cookies, cutting out the shapes and using a variety of add-ins. With only basically 3 ingredients for this recipe, you have to use the best and freshest.

I decided on this particular recipe from the many positive reviews it recieved, but I'm going to try a few others I found to a later date!

The recipe goes together in no time. The end result is a buttery, crumbly, not too sweet shortbread that I just know will only improve in flavor with time. I took the advise of a few of the reviewers and added some vanilla, cut down on the flour, added a pinch of salt and used half confectioners sugar and half granulated sugar. I also halved the recipe, as I usually do this when I'm making a recipe for the first time..not wanting to waste precious ingredients if it doesn't turn out! Yeah, I'm cheap..err, I mean.. frugal!

So begin by creaming the butter and sugar in a standing mixer. If you don't have one you'll have to do all this by hand with a wooden spoon, but think of the workout you'll get!
Add in the vanilla during the creaming process.
Once the butter and sugars are combined, add in the flour and salt.

I combined mine just to the point of it still being crumbly and not totally mixed together.

Then I switched to a wooden spoon and stirred the mixture til it looked more combined and in a nice buttery mass of dough.

Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times, gently, to incorporate flour. Remember, it's not bread we're making here!

Pat the dough into an ungreased pan.

Then flatten out the surface using the bottom of a glass or cup or whatever you have that's flat on the bottom.

Prick the shortbread, using a fork, wherever you are going to cut apart the pieces.
I decided to experiment with the shapes, making some in triangles and some in squares.( part of the way through the baking I added more fork pricks to change the rectangles into squares!

And here's the shortbread just out of the oven.
Let it cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then, using a bench scraper, cut the pieces along the lines and continue to let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Then carefully lift out your first piece. The remaining pieces will be easier to get out.

Scottish Shortbread
1 lb. ( 4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt
More flour-approx.1/4 cup for flouring work surface.
Preheat oven to 350.
1. Cream butter and sugars in a standing mixer (or by hand using a wooden spoon.)
2. Add flour and salt slowly and mix til just combined and still crumbly ( or using your wooden spoon).
3. Stir with wooden spoon til a nice, buttery mass of dough.
4. Turn out onto a floured work surface ( using some or all remaining 1/4 cup of flour).
5. Place into a 10" x 15"pan. ( Since I halved the recipe I used a 9" square pan).
6. Using a fork, prick the shortbread wherever you'll be cutting the pieces. Go all the way through with the fork to the bottom of the pan.
7. Bake for 10 minutes.
8. Lower the heat to 300 and continue to bake another 25 - 30 minutes. (Mine took 25 minutes.) The edges will be just turning a light golden brown.
9. Take out of the oven and let it sit in the pan 5 minutes. Then cut into your pieces using a bench scraper or sharp knife.
10. Continue to let it cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
I'm storing mine in a tin, which I think is best for shortbread.

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