Classic shortbread

Classic shortbread

By
From
Bake and Decorate
Makes
60
Photographer
Laura Edwards

My Scottish grandmother always baked shortbread with rice flour, but you can choose cornflour if you prefer: rice flour will give a granulated, crunchy result, while cornflour produces biscuits that melt in the mouth. I always have a batch of these stored raw in the freezer so, at very short notice, I can fill the house with the gorgeous scent of freshly baked shortbread. Beats opening a packet. Use a selection of cutters; my favourites are hearts, stars or simple rounds.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g salted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar, plus more to sprinkle
500g plain flour, plus more to dust
250g cornflour
or 250g rice flour

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
Iced, layered shortbread

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Using a large bowl and a wooden spoon, or a handheld electric whisk, or an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, then sift in the flour and cornflour gradually, mixing briefly between each addition, until it binds together. Flour your hands and gently knead until just smooth (do not over-work). To make the dough easier to roll – and if you have time – wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. On a floured board, roll out the dough to 5–6 mm thick, then cut into your chosen shapes. I used a 4.5 cm heart-shaped cutter. If the shortbread is to be frozen, lay the biscuits between sheets of baking parchment in a freezer container. They need to be defrosted for 1 hour before baking. Place the shortbreads on 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment and cook for 15–20 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar, then cool for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack.

Flavourings

  • Add any of these to the butter and sugar before adding the flour:

    –Vanilla: seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract;

    –Orange-cardamom: zest of 1 orange, finely grated, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds, sifted;

    –Lemon-lavender: zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated, and 4 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers;

    –Cinnamon: 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon;

    –Coffee: 1 tablespoon instant or filter coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water;

    –Salt and pepper: 24 turns of a pepper mill, or to taste; also sprinkle more pepper on top with the caster sugar.
Tags:
Baking
Cakes
decorating
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