Shortbread

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My husband truly loves butter cookies and shortbread.  Sometimes I find old shortbread and cookie molds at secondhand shops and have always wondered how to use them.  Finally, I decided to explore making shortbread and to treat my husband to a homemade crispy, buttery treat.a2  I found two shortbread pans for decent prices on eBay.  These are vintage ceramic pans made by Brown Bag Cookie Art.  The design on one is Fruits and Flowers and the other is Farm Animals.

Shortbread is a very old type of cookie or biscuit as it is called in the UK.  It originated in Scotland in the mid 1700s.  The basic recipe is very simple and rich in butter.  It is not possible to substitute or scrimp on the butter.  Shortbread requires butter.

My first attempt did not turn out the perfectly molded cookies I had hoped for.  I will have to work on my method to perfect it.  There are many variations on the shortbread recipe, but here are the basics.

Basic Shortbread

1 cup salted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

Cream the butter with the sugar until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla then slowly stir in the flour.  When the flour is all added, knead the dough gently until is is smooth and uniform in texture.  Split into two balls.a3

Lightly spray two 8″ square shortbread pans.  Place a ball of dough in the center of each pan and press the dough flat until it evenly fills the pans.  Lightly pierce the entire surface of the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming during baking.

Bake in the bottom third of a pre-heated 325F oven for 30-35 mins, until the bread is lightly browned over the entire surface.  The center must be browned so the cookies will unmold properly.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 mins.a4

Place a towel or large cutting board on the counter, turn the pans over and drop from a height of about 2″ onto the counter.  The shock will jar the shortbread loose from the pan.  Flip the bread over and cut with a sharp knife while still warm so it does not crumble.a5

These can be stored tightly sealed at room temperature for a week or so.  Delicious served with tea or coffee.

A variation I want to try:

Lemon Shortbread

1 cup salted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 1/4 cups flour

To make other flavors add 1/4 teaspoon of extracts such as mint, almond or coconut to the basic recipe.

My husband found he loves shortbread warm from the oven and ate several more than is good for his boyish figure!

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