Get Shorty!

Not the mobster movie starring John Travolta and Gene Hackman but the buttery, melt-in-the-mouth Scottish confection that is the shortbread cookies. Apparently shortbread cookies were once only served during Christmas and the Scottish New Year’s Eve. I am glad this is no longer the case and that shortbread cookies are easily available all year round.

I was first introduced to shortbread cookies through my mum, who has a sweet tooth (yours truly inherited that trait from her, amongst other things). When I was younger, she loved to procure her favourite All Butter Shortbread Fingers from Marks and Spencer from time to time, and these cookies were reserved as a very special treat or reward whenever I pleased her i.e. did well in school. Nowadays, she is consciously cutting down on sweet stuff in her diet as age catches up. But I know she will never reject shortbread when offered, especially if they are hand-baked by me.

Recipe: Very Short Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 255g all-purpose flour
  • 75g corn flour
  • 255g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Prepare a 9×9 inch pan by greasing with softened unsalted butter.
  3. Sift the flours into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. Cream the cubed unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and cream at medium speed for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the icing sugar and cream for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until well combined.
  7. Gradually add in the sifted flours until combined.
  8. Press the dough firmly into the pan (I use a flat-bottomed glass to help complete the deed). Prick the surface of the dough lightly with a fork at regular 1-inch intervals.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes on a rack in the lower half of the oven, until lightly browned.
  10. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cutting board and cut into squares or fingers whilst still warm. Cool completely on the wire rack before storing.

Yield: 27 1×3 inch fingers
[credits: Joycleyn Shu @ KUIDAORE]

This recipe was generously shared by Joycelyn on her online blog. She rightfully pointed out that the secret behind sensational shortbread lies in 2 main ingredients – the butter and corn flour – so it pays to use premium butter. I like Lurpak and Elle & Vire butters over the more commonly available SCS butter.

One additional tip if you like your shortbread fingers to cut more neatly after baking: score the dough lightly before putting it into the oven. In fact, I would perform this before pricking the surface with a fork. Makes the task of cutting it easier although it means that you would have to ‘double-invert’ the baked dough to get the right side up. But if you find the dough a little too soft to manage, just stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes before scoring and pricking.

Mum loved it, as did the whole family. This simple recipe is a gem and a definite keeper!

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