Shortbread

Sometimes… when I have a  few minutes, I loiter around the web, looking at things I might want to buy. I’d spotted that lovely madeleine tin on Amazon and I could justify buying that because I’d never made madeleines before and I was absolutely sure you’d all want me to make them… and I was right, wasn’t I?

Anyway, on my idle perusal of other things I hadn’t got (yet) and possibly wanted to get, I spotted a shortbread mold.  A beautiful stone mold with thistles and segments.

I love shortbread. I love its buttery, crumbly, sweet but not too sweet, sandy- textured biscuitness.

A good slice of shortbread with a cup of tea can make the whole world seem better.

It was obvious, then, I had to buy the shortbread mold.

What happens if anyone drops in and I don’t have anything nice for them to have with a cup of tea? What happens if there’s a crisis and I have to offer comfort, tea and shortbread to get them through it? I can’t take risks like that with my friends’ happiness.

Well, that’s what I told the Bear when he found me smuggling in another package from Amazon.

So, I set to.  The oven was switched on to 150 degrees C/300 degrees F

250g of unsalted butter and 125g of golden caster sugar were creamed together.

250g of good, fine plain flour and 125g of cornflour were sieved in and stirred lightly together.

If you had fine polenta (cornmeal) or semolina that would be a lovely thing to add, giving it a lovely crumbly texture. I didn’t have any so I stuck with cornflour.

I used the butter wrapper to wipe out the stone mold and get a thin layer of butter into all the crevices. (I’m thinking that one of those sprays of cooking oil might be good here)

Because I love it and because I wanted it, (what better reason do I need?) I added a quarter teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the butter and sugar.

The flour I had chosen was a good ’00’ (extra fine) so it will be smooth but just to make sure, I sieved in the flour and cornflour mix.

Sometimes, you know, I do like to faff about in the kitchen and sieving isn’t essential it just panders to my inner domestic goddess…

Bring the mix together but don’t go at it too heavily – overworking the flour will make the shortbread tough and that would never do.

See? It looks almost sandy. That’s what you are after.

Now, just pack it into the mold and press it down firmly.

Once it is flat, prick the shortbread with a fork before putting it in the oven for about 50 minutes.

It will cook to a delicate golden colour.

Look! Out of the mold you could see the thistle pattern.

Next time I do it, I shall pack it down harder to make the pattern more defined but, as it was the first time I used that mold, I didn’t mind…. it all tastes the same anyway.

Lovely. And I could eat it happily… there was no crisis (but how comforting that shortbread would have been if there had been one) there was just a cup of tea and the rest of the afternoon to enjoy it all.

It was crumbly, buttery, sweet enough but not too sugary… it was shortbread. Plain and simple shortbread.

Perfect.

13 thoughts on “Shortbread”

  1. Perfect post, Wendy – I’m actually munching on a shortbread and having a cup of tea this very moment! I love some shortbread and have great memories of my grandma making them when I was growing up. My favourite ones are a bit non-traditional: brown sugar shortbread with a bit of cinnamon thrown in. And ground hazelnuts or almonds are nice thrown in too. But they are just lovely and comforting aren’t they? I’ve got a bit of tea left… might need another piece of shortbread…

  2. I’m going to do gluten-free this weekend and maybe some flavoured shortbread… and maybe some plain…I really do think shortbread is possibly my favourite kind of biscuit. Not too sweet (so you can eat more of it) and beautifully buttery (so it feels like a great treat)…yum, yum!

  3. The last time I made shortbread, I used a recipe from the good food website and it was disasterous! It looked like little scones that would break your teeth. I’m definitely trying this recipe, and I reeeeeally want that shortbread mould aswell, it’s precious!

  4. This is lovely and crumbly, Catherine. Definitely worth a try… and if you click on the link for the shortbread mold it will take you to the Amazon page – well worth it, I thought! And now I have it I have to make more shortbread! 😉
    The ratios of various shortbreads differ but I have found the best recipe to be an equal amount of flour to the combined weight of butter and sugar. It seems to get the right mix of buttery, crumbly softness.
    (250g butter + 125g sugar = 375g, 250g plain flour + 125g other (polenta, semolina, cornflour, rice flour) = 375g dry flour mix)

  5. mmmm, I am rather fond of shortbread. I also have some of that vanilla extract you’ve got there, which I’m promised to feature in some recipes!

    This could be just the ticket! Thanks!

  6. Ellen! Surely not? I know you love marmite but….

    And Matt – that vanilla bean paste is perfect in custards and icecream and creme patisserie… anything really that you would like little flecks of vanilla seeds.
    They also do a wonderful extract that is clear and has no seeds.

  7. Well Wendy, I gave it a go and it worked wonderfully 🙂 I just blogged about it to gush over the results haha. It’s definitely a keeper for my binder, I’ve had requests for more already! Thanks again 🙂

  8. What a great mould – think I might just have to have a quick peek on Amazon now – leading me astray again! I’m with you on shortbread being the best biscuit so am wondering why I don’t make it more often – maybe I just need that mould 🙂

  9. Glad you liked it Debs – I tried quite a few recipes until I got the right proportions so it turned out soft and crumbly but firm enough, if you know what I mean!

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