Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Happy National Shortbread Day

on January 6, 2014

I’m sharing two of my favorite shortbread recipes today – both are delicious, but different.

The first comes from Judy Gorman’s “Breads of New England”; its rich and buttery and slightly on the soft side. It’s also bound to raise the hairs on those traditionalists out there. That’s fine. I’ll admit that the inclusion of vanilla is perhaps heretical unusual, and the creaming method is unconventional, but if you can hold back on the righteous outrage, I promise that you’ll devour every crumb.

1 cup butter (I used salted)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F and generously butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the salt, and then gently stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and then use a fork to mark off triangles – four to each side of the dough.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. The shortbread should be a light, pale creamy color. Cool for five minutes in the pan, and then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Unlike some others, this shortbread is as good slightly warm as it is when completely cooled.

(I’ve been known to use this as a base for fresh berries and whipped cream ; I’ve also topped it with raspberry preserves and whipped cream – maybe you’re seeing a pattern here).

Yield 8 triangles.

This second recipe for Rich Shortbread is from “The Afternoon Tea Book” by Michael Smith and is a more traditional treat in in both preparation and texture. This is a thinner, crisper cookie, perfect for dunking in your tea, and everything a good shortbread should be.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sweet (unsalted butter)
5 to 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten.

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

Rub the butter into the flour until you get a sand-like texture. Sprinkle in 4 tablespoons of the sugar and toss to thoroughly combine. With a fork, mix in the egg yolk until you get a rough paste-like texture. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Prick all over with a fork at ¼-inch intervals. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200F and continue baking for another 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cut the shortbread into 1 x 2-inch “fingers” while still warm, using a serrated knife. Leave it to cool completely in the pan.

Yield 36 pieces

This is the recipe I made today and right now, it’s happily accompanying a steaming pot of Darjeeling tea, which I liberally lace with milk and sugar. Just add a little Jane Austen or an Agatha Christie “Miss Marple” mystery, and you’re all set for a ridiculously cold winter night.

“Shortbread” from Judy Gorman’s Breads of New England, Yankee Publishing, 1988

“Rich Shortbread” from The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith, Athenum, 1986


One response to “Happy National Shortbread Day

  1. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    Maeve, no comments yet? Here’s something that has nothing to do with your post. I have been watching a lot of Due South lately. It’s comforting to see an innocent straght arrow win. Part of it may be trying to rid my ancestrqal aversion to red coats. Enjoy!

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