Wednesday 10 September 2014

Baking: Shortbread

It occurred to me that most (or all) of my baking blogs have been cupcakes ... or even when I haven't blogged about what I have been baking ... it's been cupcakes!

So with that in mind I had a look in my cooking cupboard to see what ingredients I had and then took to google to find a recipe - I didn't have much luck ...

I decided to make some shortbread as I found a recipe that one of my family members sent me for Christmas last year in a box. It was my grandmother's recipe for Shortbread. She sadly passed away a few years ago to Cancer. 

You know what they say about your grandparents and their cooking (well in my case anyway) it compared with no ones - not restaurants, not my own parents ... it was the best - no lies! So when I got the recipe I was rather excited as I always loved her shortbread, and her tablet, and her toffee, and her cakes ... I could go on ... but let's get to business.

Shortbread is a very easy thing to bake ... you just need to remember a few little tips which make it better.

ingredients for shortbread

Temperature: 170ºC or 340ºF (depends really on your oven)
Yield: (depending on thickness) I got 18
Time: 10 mins to make, 20 mins freezing/chilling and 10-15 mins baking


1. 8oz plain flour
2. 4oz granulated or caster sugar 
3. 8oz butter
4. 4 oz cornflour

1. You want to let the butter go very soft - so if you are planning on making this, possibly the morning of baking, take the butter out the fridge and leave on the kitchen top so its soft when you start. If not pop it in the microwave on defrost (I did it for 20 seconds on lowest defrost setting) and my butter was very soft. You don't want it melted so don't leave the microwave unattended.

2. The key to shortbread is that you want as less physical contact (with your hands) as possible as you want the ingredients/dough to stay cool. We will get into why ... later on. So add the butter to the mixer and cream until butter is like a paste (takes about 10 seconds) then add the sugar (for a finer biscuit use caster or if you like a crunch use granulated). Cream again until mixed together. 

3. Mix the flours together and sieve into the creamed sugar and butter and slowly mix until everything comes together. You should have a breadcrumb consistency. Wash your hands and quickly bring together the dough in the bowl until it comes together. 

4. Tip the dough onto a work surface (you shouldn't need to flour it as dough shouldn't be sticky) Cut the dough equally into two pieces. Roll each piece up like a sausage on the work surface. Pop the two sausages onto a place or a baking tray and pop into the freezer or fridge to chill. (If you want you can loosely wrap them in cling film).

There are a couple of reasons why we are chilling the dough - it makes it easier to work with when we bring it out of the fridge/freezer and once chilled when it goes into the oven the increase in temperature means that when the butter melts in leaves little air pockets in the shortbread which gives the finished product a more flakier feel.

5. Just before the 20 minutes are up - take time to prepare a couple of baking trays (it's optional if you want to use greaseproof paper). Take our your shortbread sausages. Get a knife and cut the shortbread (this is where you decide how thick or thin you want them) - depending on thickness will decide on how many you get.

6. Place them on the baking trays, trying not to finger them as much as possible - you want to keep them cold or chilling them will have been for nothing.

7. Pop them straight into the oven and set your timer for about 10 minutes ... 

8. After 10 minutes is up you will want to have a look ... in Scotland - some people love a pale piece of shortbread, while others prefer a nice browner, well done piece. I love it pale. So 10-14 mins is okay for me. However you decide what you want.

When I'm making it for other people. I always have 2 baking trays worth of it ... so I take one out after 10 minutes or so and leave the other in another 5-10 minutes so I have a range of shade to let people choose from.

9. Use a fish slice or something to move the shortbread to a cooling rack. While still hot sprinkle some caster sugar on top.

10. Once cooled give me people to eat or pop into an airtight box and take to work - like I did.

shortbread making and baking

Hope you enjoyed the recipe and let me know if you baked it or suggest something for me to bake?!

Happy Baking!

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