classic shortbread

shortbread

I know. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Far too long. All I can say is that I have two dogs that seem to have taken over my life.

Larry & Mila aka "the bears"

Larry & Mila aka “the bears”

Aren’t they just the cutest?

So as you can see – my snuggle bears keep me busy. But don’t worry. I haven’t abandoned my baking. Far from it!

Right now I am elbow deep in decadent holiday baking classes at The Urban Element. Every Saturday and Sunday I get to “teach” 16 individuals. People of all ages and varying comfort levels in the kitchen and with baking. Together, we bake close to 1800 cookies and squares. Everyone goes home with 8 dozen baked goods … all in a 5 hour time frame. It’s fun. It’s crazy. It is a little tiring (since I do still have my day job) – but boy do I LOVE it. I heart how enthusiastic everyone is. It’s the kind of day that brings good people, positive attitudes, and a lot of laughs and tasty treats.

I’m so lucky to be able to do this again this year.

When we came up with the baking list for this year we decided to include shortbread. Originally I think I thought we would roll it out or make it a slice cookie. But then I picked up a Donna Hay cookbook. That’s right. This recipe is all in thanks to Donna Hay.

Donna Hay's shortbread

Her picture of her shortbread was so pretty that I knew I needed to try it.

And then the recipe itself was so simple that it was a no brainer.

Honestly. You add all the ingredients to a food processor. Process it together. At first you’ll think nothing is happening and then all of a sudden the dough will gather together… and it’ll be done. Simple perfection.

classic shortbread

Do you think you’re ready to give it a try?

I think you are.

PS. this is so user-friendly you don’t even need a mixing bowl. I mean you can use one if you want … but honestly, I just place everything into my food processor bowl and go. You’ll have hardly any dishes to do … doesn’t that sound like the absolute perfect holiday cookie recipe?

You can click here to watch me demonstrate this on CTV Ottawa Morning Live Friday December 5th, 2014.

classic shortbread

ingredients:

250 g cold butter, cubed

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp vanilla

butter

dry ingredients

In the bowl of your food processor, using your metal blade, place the butter, flour, icing sugar, tapioca flour and vanilla. Place the lid on your food processor and turn it on. You don’t need to pulse it. Just turn it on and let it go.

Right now you’re probably seeing just a lot of dry ingredients go around and around … and you’re thinking “should I stop it and use a spatula to mix it up?”. Don’t. It’ll come together. Give it a couple of minutes.

Now you are seeing it gather into a ball of dough. See it? It’s pretty perfect isn’t it.

Turn it out onto your counter and knead it all together. No flour required. Just knead it into one ball.

press the dough into your pan

Press the dough into your ready pan (I use basic PAM spray first). I decided this recipe was the perfect opportunity to use my loose bottom rectangular tart pan. I’d get pretty fluted edges that would add to the look of my shortbread. Add the skewered holes to the shortbread and I think mine could pass for Walkers Shortbread. If you don’t have the pan, line a rectangular pan with parchment paper and then press the dough on top. It’s the same idea … only it’s fun to have the pretty edges.

Once it’s been pressed along the base and into the sides and edges of your pan, allow your dough to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

This is a great time to turn your oven to 350 F in order to heat it.

When you’re ready to take it out of the fridge (after its resting time) the fun starts. At least I think it’s pretty fun.

creating the "walker" shortbread

Cut your shortbread. If using a rectangular pan you will likely want to cut the dough in half and then cut slices into that. I’m able to get 24 cookies in my 14 x 5 inch tart pan. You can use a round pan too! I simply encourage you to also place a round cookie cutter in the middle. That means your tips won’t ever break off – and you end up with an extra round shortbread cookie!

before baking

Use a skewer to pierce holes into your shortbread. This creates a really pretty effect.

Now you’re ready to bake it for 35 minutes. I always bake it on my upper-middle rack. I haven’t had to worry about the bottom not being cooked enough and it gets my top a little golden brown as well.

When the time is up … remove the pan from the oven.

after baking

And re-cut all those cookies you already cut out. If you do it while it’s still hot, you don’t end up with brittle edges. If my holes aren’t as pronounced I will re-skewer the holes too. But that might be a little OCD.

Now for the reason why I really love the loose bottomed pan.

removing the side of the pan

Rather than allow the cookies to cool in the pan, I’m able to simply slip the sides off the pan and allow the cookies to cool on on a wire rack (they are still sitting on the loose bottom). I leave the cookies for a few minutes because they are very delicate – but I find that without the sides on the tart pan, it doesn’t over-bake the sides of the shortbread.

allow to cool

Allow the shortbread to cool and then gently remove them from the base.

shortbread

You end up with little sticks of cookies. I like that they are quite thick – but not dry. They have a crunch on the outside, yet they still melt when you bite into them. A brilliantly lovely shortbread recipe.

We have changed it up a bit for the decadent holiday baking classes. Rather than a classic shortbread we bake orange cardamom shortbread. A beautiful, citrus and spicy buttery cookie – perfect for an afternoon tea break. Simply add 1/2 tsp of cardamom and the zest of one orange to your shortbread ingredients.

I’ve also swapped out the orange and the cardamom and made these with a chai spice mix. That just might be my absolute favourite version of this cookie. I’ll be making those for my own family this year … and likely dipping them in chocolate as well. Why not twist up a classic?