Today we’re making shortbread—that melt-in-your-mouth buttery delight that few realize is dead easy to make. It’s all about ratios, people. Yep, it’s mathematics for the win.
1 part sugar + 2 parts butter + 3 to 4 parts flour = Perfect Shortbread
Some like to add cornstarch. Some make it with brown sugar instead of white. Some use powdered sugar, others granulated sugar. Some people add vanilla or lemon zest or any other flavouring that strikes their fancy. Many cut it into rectangles like their Scottish Granny did. Others roll it out, cut it into pretty shapes, and maybe even dip it into melted dark chocolate after baking. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s all good. I am not a purist. You enjoy your shortbread any way you like, ’cause life’s too short to make rules about cookies.
On this particular day, mine is in the shape of hearts and colourfully decorated with royal icing. Now there’s a cookie rule being broken if I ever saw one. The cookie snobs would tell you that royal icing is for sugar cookies, and I would thumb my nose at them and carry right on, because everyone knows that sugar cookies taste like sawdust compared to amazing buttery shortbread.
Enough blathering. Don’t you just hate when you have to scroll 3 miles down someone’s blog past 800 ads to finally get to what you’re looking for? Here’s the recipe.
Perfect Buttery Shortbread
Makes Approximately 2 Dozen Cookies
- 1 lb. Butter, softened
- 1 cup Sugar (I prefer superfine)
- 4 cups Flour
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Add butter and sugar to bowl of stand mixer and combine at low speed. Increase to medium speed and whip for 2 minutes. (At this point you can add a teaspoon of vanilla or lemon zest if you so desire.)
- Add flour, one cup at a time, and combine on low speed until it all comes together. (At this point you can also add tiny amount of gel food colouring if you want to make fancy coloured cookies for An Occasion.)
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a flattened disk. (At this point if the dough is too soft to handle, you can pop it in the refrigerator for an hour and have a cup of tea.)
- Roll the dough out to your desired thickness. ¼ inch works well for fun-shaped cookies you plan to decorate. ½ in thick rectangles make a nice chunky cookie that’s perfect for dipping in chocolate. The possibilities are endless. Cut and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes. The timing will depend on your oven and the thickness of your cookies. Bake just until the bottom and edges are just starting to colour golden brown.
- 2 Egg Whites
- 2 cups Icing Sugar
- ½ tsp. Vanilla
- Add egg whites, sugar, and vanilla to bowl of stand mixer. Slowly combine, then increase speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes.
- Separate into bowls for as many colours as you intend to use, and add colouring.
- Check the consistency. The texture of soft toothpaste is ideal for piping borders around your cookies. To flood fill, you need to thin the icing with a few drops of water at a time until it flows smooth in about 10 seconds. Only add a tiny bit of water at a time, as it’s far easier to thin it more than it is to try to thicken it back up again. You don’t want it so thin that it will run off the cookie.
- Go to town with the piping bag. Have fun!