Shortbread is not the same thing as shortcake, and it most certainly isn’t a form of bread. It is however, one of the most delicious buttery foodstuffs known to mankind, and quite possibly one of the contributing factors to Scotland’s cardiovascular mortality rate. I had been fully intending to go systematically through my “To Bake” List, only this somehow ended up jumping the queue.
It is a simple recipe, containing only four/five ingredients, yet it can also be surprisingly tricky! If you get it right, you’ll know the minute you take your first bite. The crumbly yet meltingly rich shortbread will do its work – it is positively addictive stuff.
A few fallacies to beware:
- Not using butter, but margarine or even oil (blergh) instead
- Not kneading for long enough (too powdery) or kneading for too long (tough)
- Glutinous rice flour is NOT the same thing as rice flour
- Rice flour is not a substitute for plain flour
- Baking at too high a temperature (crunchy outside, doughy inside)
I think I’ve navigated the worst of the pitfalls though, so I can give you a pretty foolproof recipe.
This is an ideal recipe to bake if you’re short on time, which I certainly have been. Lately, my commute to work has seemed tediously long – three hours of the day spent drumming your fingers against the dashboard, t’ain’t fun.
- 40g caster sugar
- 80g unsalted butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 110g plain flour
- 10g cornflour
- extra caster sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 150˚C. Line a 17cm cake tin. Whisk the flours and salt together briefly until well combined. Then separately, beat the caster sugar and butter together until smooth. Then mix in the flours until it begins to clump together, and press together to form a dough. Pat this firmly into the tin. Scatter over some caster sugar.
Bake the shortbread for approximately 30-40 minutes until tinged pale gold – don’t let it get too brown. Take out of the tin carefully and slice into wedges whilst still hot. It will get harder when it cools down. Scatter caster sugar over the shortbread to make it look prettier. You’re done.