Melt in your mouth Scottish shortbread

It’s said that Mary Queen of Scots’ fondness for shortbread is the reason for its increased popularity since the 1500s. Nowadays, this buttery treat is loved by everyone around the world, so much so that January 6 has been declared National Shortbread Day!

Crumbly, mildly sweet and deliciously buttery, Scottish shortbread is definitely the perfect year-round treat. Shortbread is as basic and as simple as a cookie can get, but is never short on being divinely scrumptious. Don’t confuse them with butter cookies thought!

While they both have a lot of butter in them, especially compared to other cookies, butter cookies use more flour and sugar. They also bake at higher temperatures and tend to hold their consistency and shape when baked.

Shortbread cookies, on the other hand, have a higher ratio of butter to flour and bake at a lower temperature. This give’s the cookie its signature crumbly. melt in your mouth consistency.

Serves -18

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks  quality unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature (the better the butter, the better the shortbread)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.  Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pan.  You can also use a round cake can and cut the shortbread into triangles.
  2. Place the caster sugar, flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it’s combined and looks like coarse breadcrumbs but is soft and pliable and comes together in a dough when you press it together between your fingers. If it’s too dry and crumbly it needs to be pulsed a bit longer.
  3. Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan.  Use your fingers and hands to firmly press down the mixture. Note: If the mixture is too dry to work with, including pricking with a fork then it was not pulsed long enough in the food processor.
  4. Place the shortbread on the middle rack and bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden and firm. Let cool. Cut and serve.
Optional:  Prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, creating rows.  Some people also like to run a knife between each row of fork tines to make cutting the shortbread easier after it’s baked. You can also prick the shortbread with a fork immediately after it is done baking while it is still warm; the holes will be more pronounced this way as they have a tendency to close during baking.
Store the shortbread in an airtight container for up to several weeks.  Its flavour and texture improves over time.  

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