December 1st. Shortbread season begins today.
(Here's something a little different for long-time blog readers.)
Four years ago, in December, I made dozens and dozens of batches of shortbread, slowly tweaking my recipe, batch after batch. By Christmas, that year, I had what I consider (everyone's tastes are different) the perfect ratio of flour/butter/sugar/salt, and exactly the right texture: dense, crisp, substantial, and short—not fluffy and light like whipped/cornstarch shortbread, and not crumbly like Walkers.
I present for you, friends, that recipe.
- 70g granulated white sugar (don't use the fancy kinds)
- 130g unsalted butter (slightly softened; it's colder than normal room temperature in my kitchen)
- 200g all purpose white flour (I use unbleached)
- 4g kosher salt
In a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream (mix until smooth) the sugar and butter. I like to throw the salt in here, too. You'll need to scrape down the sides with a spatula, as it mixes (turn the mixer off first, of course).
When well-creamed, and with the mixer on low speed, add the flour in small batches; a little at a time. Mix until combined so it looks like cheese curds. It's not a huge deal if you over-mix, but the best cookies come when it's a little crumblier than a cohesive dough, in my experience.
Turn out the near-dough onto a length of waxed paper, and roll into a log that's ~4cm in diameter, pressing the "curds" together, firmly. Wrapped in the wax paper, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 325°F, with a rack in the middle position.
Slice the chilled log (with a sharp, non-searated knife) into ~1.5cm thick rounds, and place onto a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. (If you refrigerate longer, you'll want to let it soften a little before slicing.)
Bake until right before the tops/sides brown. In my oven, this takes 22 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
Eat and share!
Don't try to add vanilla or top them with anything, unless you like inferior shortbread. (-; Avoid the temptation to eat them right away, because they're 100 times better when they've cooled. Pop a couple in the freezer for 5 mins if you're really impatient (and I am).
Enjoy! Let me know if you make these, and how they turned out.