I’ve had a craving for shortbread ever since I was a little girl traveling with my parents in the UK on the way to visit family in Holland. When we stopped for tea in the countryside they served crispy, little buttery confections just like these. I’ve even sneaked a box (paid, of course!) from the store back in the days when our children were small. I really didn’t want to share them. For shame!
Early this June at a friend’s graduation party, I spied this pretty plate of mouth-watering lavender shortbreads. Now I have the bug to make them myself, so I can eat all I want 🙂 Our whole family loves to eat them, so unless I make them myself and hide them, all I ever get is one fifth of the batch!
With this recipe, it is able to be made ahead and chilled (as in a cookie-dough roll in wax paper) or frozen, and don’t you love the fork-holes?
I can picture these shortbreads on the Queen’s table at teatime 😉
The very first shortbread recipe appeared in a Scottish cookbook dated 1736; early formulas called for yeast, but by 1850 most were utilizing only butter, flour, and sugar. There are as many variations of it as days in the calendar.
Queen Victoria was said to like her shortbread seasoned with salt; the town of Goosnargh in Lancashire is flavors theirs with coriander and caraway; shortbread from Pitcaithly, in Scotland, is made with orange peel and almonds. And shortbreads, whether plain or molded into a pattern, are often dipped in chocolate.
Less variation exists in the shape of the cookie. The dough is often pressed into circular molds with intricate designs, to make it recall the Yule bannock, an ancient, rounded and notched cake said to resemble the sun. Finger shapes are also common, as are the wedges called ‘petticoat tails’, reminiscent of bell-shaped crinolines and supposedly favored by Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Basic Shortbread Ingredients~
This is Martha Stewart’s Basic Recipe.
~1/2 cup powdered sugar
~1 cup (two sticks) organic butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
~2 cups organic (non-GMO) unbleached all-purpose flour
~1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-inch round cake pan, springform pan, or round cookie sheet.
- Sift together flour and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium (or by hand), cream butter until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until very light in color and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add flour mixture, and beat on low (or by hand), scraping bowl if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed.
- Pat dough into prepared pan or roll out into a 8 1/2-9″ circle on cookie sheet. Use a paring knife to score dough into wedges; prick all over in even intervals with a fork.
- Bake until firm in the center and just starting to color, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Cut into wedges. Cookies will keep, in an airtight container, at room temperature 3 weeks.
The dough (and its variations) can be prepared,wrapped, and refrigerated overnight or frozen up to three months, sealed tightly in a BPA-free Ziploc bag (remove all air before sealing); thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using.
6 Variations on the Basic Shortbread Recipe:
Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart: Orange Spice Shortbread Dipped~
Gourmandistan: Lemon Thyme Butter Cookies~
Baked By Joanna: Cardamom-Pistachio Shortbread~
eCurry: Orange Ginger Shortbread~
Recipe Girl: Pumpkin Shortbread Cookies~
And lastly, That Winsome Girl: Lemon Shortbread~Ooh!
If Queen Elizabeth were to arrive at my door for tea, I would most certainly serve her these delectable delights and some Lady Grey! Cheerio, for now, loves!
“Better is a dry morsel with quietness than a house full of feasting with strife.”
Thanks for reading!