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BackstoryThere is NO vegetable shortening in shortbread - Never, Ever. Even though they share a common root word, all this means is that the fat inhibits the formation of gluten (which is a stretchy long protein) and "shortens" the dough. Butter, which is an animal derived shortening, does this just as well, especially European butter which is about 85% fat, as opposed to American butter which is only 80%.
Eggs - There are NO eggs in shortbread, well, at least not in Scottish Shortbread. There is also no flavoring, at all... No Vanilla... Butter is the flavoring of Scottish Shortbread, which is why the quality of the European butter you use is SO important. :) So please find a Butter that you like the flavor of. If you want a flavored shortbread, do what I do, use American butter, cause the European butter is way too expensive to cover up with extracts and such.
OK, now the recipe.....
There ya go, that is all there is to it.... Hmmm, I guess I should flesh this out a little bit.
1 part Granulated Sugar
2 parts Unsalted European Butter
3 parts Unbleached AP Flour.
Seriously though, it really is that simple, and infinitely scalable. Such as 6 oz sugar, 12 oz butter, 18 oz AP flour...... 10 oz sugar, 20 oz butter, 30 oz AP flour... and so on and so forth. The fun part is the assembly. So here we go.
- 4 oz Granulated Sugar
- 8 oz Unsalted European Butter
- 12 oz Unbleached AP Flour
- 1/2 tsp of Kosher Salt, just cuz
- Place Butter, Sugar and Salt in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.
- Slowly work in the Flour until a crumbly dough forms.
- Place on a large piece of waxed paper.
- Press the crumbly dough into a log.
- Roll the waxed paper around it and roll on the counter (this seems to work fairly well)
- Remove waxed paper and wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 4 hours.
- When you remove the dough from the refrigerator, begin preheating the oven to 325 degrees.
- Slice into 1/4 inch slices and lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the bottoms begin to brown but the sides are still pale.
- Leave the Shortbreads on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes so the starch in the flour has a chance to cool and gel slightly.
- Move to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Serve with your favorite herbal tea.
- IF you have a wooden Thistle mold the baking time is a little different.......
- Sprinkle a wooden mold with either Corn Starch or AP Flour.
- Press the dough into the mold.
- Sort of "smear" any excess towards the outside of the mold and remove.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Tap the mold onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- (This takes a little finesse, A LOT of tapping and occasionally some beating)
- Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 325 and bake an additional 10-15 minutes; checking every 5-10 minutes - do not let the edges brown too much. (You want the shortbread to be "just" set in the middle, remember, this is real butter and it will burn very easily. Besides, there is a little bit of carry-over when they are removed from the oven.)
- In the mean time, redust the mold and fill with more dough, it can be chilling while the first one is cooking...
- Yes, it takes awhile this way, but they are so awesome look at, that it's almost a shame to eat them.
- Then again.... ;)