We bring you a variety of deliciously tempting shortbread cookie recipes. Whether cut into fingers or shaped as petticoat tails shortbread is welcome at any occasion.
Their buttery flavour and melt-in-the mouth texture are irresistible.
Shortbread is traditionally served as a dessert during Christmas and New Year. However you don't need the excuse of a special occasion to enjoy it. Shortbread can be served any time of the year either plain or decorated.
To ensure you never run out and always have a selection on hand when you have an attack of the afternoon munchies check out our selection of shortbread cookie recipes.
Shortbread originated from medieval biscuit bread. Leftover dough from bread making was dried out and hardened in a low oven to resemble rusks. Over time the yeast was replaced by butter and so biscuit bread became shortbread.
In fact shortbread derives its name from the use of butter (shortening) as the main ingredient.
Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who enjoyed a traditional form of shortbread, known as Petticoat Tails. These were a thin, crisp, buttery biscuit originally flavored with caraway seeds. The triangles resembled the shape of the pieces of fabric used to make petticoats during the reign of Elizabeth I.
In the beginning shortbread was an expensive luxury and was usually reserved for special occasions. However over the years it became an everyday favourite and is now enjoyed worldwide.
Traditional shortbread consisted of three main ingredients, flour, butter and sugar. Today there are many variations on this original recipe but most shortbread cookie recipes still retain the original ingredients.
For a soft shortbread replace about 10 per cent of the plain / all-purpose flour with rice flour.
When making shortbread always soften the butter to room temperature first.
As the butter is the star of the show, use good quality. Unsalted butter creates a more delicious flavour.
When rubbing the butter into the flour by hand, just use your fingertips for a lighter texture. The mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Gather the dough together to form a ball with your fingers.
Knead the dough very lightly on a floured board for about 30 seconds until smooth.
Roll out to the required sized round and, using a sharp knife, score the shortbread into sections or wedges.
Pricking the surface with a fork allows steam to escape during the cooking process and prevents the shortbread from rising in the middle.
Chill the dough in the fridge before baking for about 30 minutes.
Shortbread should be baked in a cool oven until it becomes a pale, golden straw color.
Shortbread is soft when it first comes out of the oven, but becomes crisper when left to cool.
Once the shortbread has cooled slightly, cut into the desired shape.
Preheat the oven to 160°C / 315°F.
Sift together the dry ingredients. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips. This can also be done in a food processor (for about 30 seconds or until the butter is incorporated into the flour).
Gently press the ingredients together firmly. Turn out onto a lightly floured board then knead lightly until the mixture is smooth.
If you don't happen to have a shortbread mold, there are a variety of different methods of shaping and cooking shortbread. You can use whatever tins you have in your kitchen.
Shortbread is traditionally shaped into three shapes:
Individual shortbread rounds
A large circle divided into segments (petticoat tails)
A rectangular slab cut into fingers
Using a mold to create shortbread gives it a professional finish.
Shortbread molds usually have a carved design of a thistle, representing the origins of shortbread and are available in different sizes.
Brush the mold with a flavorless oil the first time it is used, then wipe with kitchen paper.
Press the mixture into the shortbread mold then cut away excess dough by running a sharp knife across the top.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and invert the mold on to the baking sheet. Tap the mold firmly to release the dough.
Place the shortbread onto baking trays and bake in oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little caster sugar, then leave to cool.
Line a bar tin with baking paper which overlaps the sides and press the mixture evenly into the tin.
Mark into squares or rectangles and prick with a fork. For a 28cm x 18cm (11 inch x 7 inch) tin bake in a warm oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and leave in tin until cool enough to handle. Using the overlapping baking paper, lift from tin then cut into fingers while still warm.
Divide mixture between two greased 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins. Score the dough into 8 wedges and prick with a fork.
Bake in a warm oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough, turn out and cut into wedges while still warm.
Using the tins as a guide, the mixture can be shaped in the tins then turned out onto baking trays. Mark into wedges, prick with a fork and pinch the edges into a decorative pattern. Use the cooking times as stated above.
For more shortbread cookie recipes check out our recipes below.
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