I’m a firm believer that shortbread cookies should be sinfully buttery and delectably tender. There are several ways to make shortbread – with or without rice flour, rubbing butter in, using a food processor or creaming the butter. I’ve provided my “go to” recipe, plus alternatives!
Butter, flour and sugar. That’s all you need to make Shortbread Cookies! Did you know that? Off you run to the kitchen! 🙂
If you use a food processor, you can have these in the oven in a flash. But – I don’t. Well, I do sometimes. And sometimes I like to rub the butter in with my fingers – the old school traditional way. But mostly, I make it by creaming butter with a beater or even a wooden spoon, then mix in the sugar and flour.
And this is why – because I like how nice and smooth the surface comes out when made using creamed butter. See the difference? (PS Food processor example is also what it looks like when you rub butter in with your fingers).
But actually, if you like your shortbread extremely crumbly (see video for how crumbly my shortbread is), then you may want to opt for the food processor/rubbing butter in with fingers version. It definitely more crumbly – as it looks.
I purchased a packet of Walker’s shortbread cookies to compare to these homemade ones. I was just curious – I’ve never tried it before. At least, not to my knowledge – but no doubt they were present on the obligatory plate of biscuits that made an appearance at meetings in my former life in corporate. And there is a good chance I took one unknowingly, nibbling on it as I sipped extra strong black coffee and desperately tried to appear alert and interested in whatever was being discussed in the uncomfortably warm meeting room (WHY oh WHY where meeting rooms always so warm??). Probably barefoot under the conference table because I did have a penchant for teetering around in painful-but-fabulous sky high heels that I kicked off at every opportunity.
Now look at me. Flour smeared jeans at best, cut off trackies at worst, ugg boots in winter and barefoot in summer. Cooking / creating / recipe testing / photographing / videoing. And oh-so-much dishwashing. 🙂
But I digress.
Shortbread cookies! I’m here for shortbread cookies!
So – the packet of Walker’s shortbread cookies. I purchased it to compare, and there is simply no contest at all. Homemade Shortbread Cookies are way more tender – no matter which method you use, with or without rice flour. The crumble is softer when you bite into it, they are more buttery.
I truly believe that Shortbread Cookies are one of the iconic cookies in this world. To think that all you need is butter, flour and sugar to make such a delectable treat is just amazing, isn’t it?
The weekend is here. I just know you’ve been good all week. You deserve a treat. Go on! 🙂 – Nagi xx
I’m a firm believer that shortbread cookies should be sinfully buttery and delectably tender. So my recipe uses less flour and more butter than many. There are various ways to make them so please refer to the notes for options. These are, as great shortbread cookies should be, not that sweet, quite delicate and when you bite into them, they crumble softly, as demonstrated in the VIDEO below. Use recipe scaler to reduce recipe if you wish (hover cursor over Servings and slide scaler).
- 250 g/ 8 oz salted butter, softened (2 x US sticks, 1 cup) (or unsalted + ¼ tsp salt)
- 3/4 cup / 90 g icing sugar, soft or pure (powdered sugar) (Note 2)
- 2 cups / 300g plain flour (all purpose flour)
Preheat oven to 160C/325F (standard) or 150C/300F (fan forced / convection).
Butter and line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13" pan with baking paper with overhang.
Beat butter until smooth (or use very soft butter and a wooden spoon). Add icing sugar and beat until combined.
Add half the flour and beat until mostly combined – it will resemble wet sand. Then beat in the remainder. Use your hands to bring it together into a smooth ball of dough – knead lightly if required.
Roughly press down into a rectangle shape, then transfer into the pan. Press into the pan. Optional: Roll over the top using a small rolling pin or glass (that’s what I used) for a smooth surface. Don’t press down too hard – it makes the cookies firmer
Bake for 20 minutes until edges are very light golden and most of the surface is still pale gold.
Remove from the oven. Working quickly, cut into desired shape (I do 8 x 3 bars, like Walker’s shortbread biscuits) and prick all over with a fork (optional).
Return to the oven for 8 minutes or until the surface is light golden – not browned. Turn the oven off, crack it open ajar, then leave to cool for at least 1 hour in the oven.
Remove from the oven, use paper overhang to remove the biscuits from the pan. Cool fully on rack. Serve with tea!!
1. RICE FLOUR: Some recipes use a combination of plain and rice flour. This makes the cookie slightly more tender. I find the base recipe tender enough as it is, so I typically do not use it. Also rice flour is not a pantry staple in my household. To do this swap out ¼ cup of the flour with rice flour. Just add it with the flour. Some recipes say you can use cornstarch/cornflour as well. I personally find this leaves a bit of a chalky taste.
2. SUGAR: I like to use icing sugar because the grains are finer so you get a smoother finish on the surface. Also icing sugar is about 1/2 the sweetness of sugar by volume.
There are 2 types of icing sugar in Australia - Soft and Pure. I use Soft because it's what I always have in stock for frostings. Pure also works (that's what is used for things like royal icing because it hardens) with no noticeable difference to me. (Soft icing sugar has cornflour mixed in, Pure is pure sugar).
The icing sugar can be substituted with 1/2 cup of white sugar, preferably caster/superfine sugar + 2 tbsp flour.
3. FOOD PROCESSOR / RUBBING BUTTER: Instead of creaming softened butter, the other method is to rub the butter in. This yields a more crumbly shortbread but the surface is rougher – see comparison photo in post. If you wish to use this method (which I believe is the original traditional method, think pre beater days!), this is how to do it:
* Cut COLD butter into 1cm / 2/5” cubes;
* Food processor: place all the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Pulse 20 times, then whizz on high for 25 seconds until it forms breadcrumbs. Turn out onto work surface and proceed with recipe;
* Rubbing: Place all the flour and sugar in a bowl, then add butter. Use fingertips to rub butter into flour until it forms breadcrumbs (see video for how it should look). Turn out onto work surface and proceed with recipe.
4. HOT WEATHER WARNING! If it is super hot where you are and/or you have very hot hands with the butter rubbing method, press the dough into the pan then refrigerate for 20 minutes or until chilled.
5. PRECUTTING: To cut out into shapes before baking, it is best to add ¼ cup of flour to make a dough that won’t spread as much when baking. Then roll out into 1 cm / 2/5” thickness and cut into desired shape, place on a baking paper lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 150C/300F (fan forced) or 170C/340F (standard) then bake for 15 minutes until the edges are just starting to the brown but the surface is still a pale gold.
6. METHOD NOTES: One thing I do a bit differently to most is to take the shortbread out towards the end of the bake time to cut into bars. This is because whenever I cut before baking, the cuts virtually disappear during baking (same with the holes pricked on top). If you cut the cooked biscuit, it has a tendency to make the surface crack slightly where you cut / poke. My solution is to do it partway through baking.
The other thing I do is leave the shortbread in the oven to cool. This is a tip I picked up from Cooks’ Illustrated – it allows the biscuit to finish cooking without the surface browning (shortbread cookies should be very pale).
7. MEASURING CUPS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES: Shortbread is actually quite forgiving. I've tested this using both US and Australian measures and I couldn't tell the difference.
8. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Shortbread Cookie recipe video! Note the part at the end re: the cookie being crumbled. This is how it should be! And PS clearly these are not my hands in this video. I had assistance!
LIFE OF DOZER
We had a beautiful sunrise earlier this week. I didn’t get a single photo of it. But I got plenty of Dozer checking it out!!!