May 4, 2014

Classic Short Bread Cookies

Its very exciting to be back and blogging again. After a very packed three months, I have found the time and motivation to blog (and bake) again!

I decided to bake them for a friend's birthday potluck as a dessert.  This particular recipe only uses four ingredients, and results in soft, crumble in your mouth cookies. 

With radio playing in the background, and a little "mini lightbox" setup to take photos I was done in about 1 hour (including chilling the cookie dough for 20 minutes in the fridge).  Let's get started!

The origin and shapes of Shortbread

These delectable treats are originally from Scotland and are super simple to make! Theseoriginate all the way back to the 12 century (HK) and classically come in three shapes:

From left to right: Petticoat Tails, Shortbread Fingers and Shortbread Rounds. 

{1 / 2 / 3}

What shortbread actually stands for

I always thought that the term "shortbread" was named so because it was a "shortened" way of making cookies because there are no eggs involved, no baking soda/baking powder and consists of a very short list of ingredients. In fact "short" is in reference to the the "crumbly" texture of the cookie once you bake it. 

Considerations with Shortbread

Refrigerate your cookie dough to make better cookies: What I've learned time and time again is that the temperature of your ingredients have a big impact on the consistency and quality of your final product - especially with baking cakes. I had heard of the tip of chilling your cookie dough before baking actually produces better cookies, but I never really knew why.

This site explains that cool cookie dough does the following:

  1. Cooled cookies retains shape better when you bake, whereas warm cookie dough will spread out quickly and lose its shape. 
  2. The gluten can "relax" and makes the final product soft and crunch (debatable, we may need to do a randomized controlled trial). 
  3. Cooling allows the flour more time to absorb the liquid more fully producing a much richer taste. Whether this is actually true, I'm not sure. 
This New York Times writer investigates the power of refrigerating cookie dough in 12, vs. 24 vs. 36 hour timeslots amongst his colleagues. The 36 hour chilled cookies consistently faired better. 

These cookies bake at low temperatures: and often retain a light colour in the oven. I baked mine at 200 degrees F. Baking at higher temperatures will result in rock hard cookies - and they will brown too much!


  • 2 cups of All-Purpose-Flour (non self rising)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (icing sugar). 

Preparation time: 1 hour (includes 20 minutes of refrigeration of doe). 


1. Measure out 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together and set aside. 

2. Using a mixer on low to medium, beat your 2 sticks (or 1 cup) of unsalted butter that is at room temperature. Beat until light and fluffy.

3. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar (or icing sugar) - a total of 1 and 1/4 cup. Here I am adding it 1/4 cup at a time.

Note the smooth texture of the butter witht he confectioner's sugar. 
 4. You should have your dry and wet ingredients. Beat the entire flour mixture at once.

Unfortunately my mixture was too dry (see picture below on right), so I added more unsalted butter (at room temperature) to get a "mashed potato"-like texture that you see in step 5. 

5. It should look a lot like mashed potatoes:

6. Next refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes, or up to 3 days. You can choose to "spoon drop" the cookies on a cookie sheet or greased baking tray OR use cookie cutters, which I did in this case:

7. Place in the oven that has already been preheated to 200 degrees Farenheit. Bake until slightly browned.

Allow to cool in the oven:

The Final Product

Here I made them thinner and these actually tasted much better!

As the scots would say, thenk ye!

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1 comment:

  1. Lena BarclayMay 12, 2014

    This post made me drool a little! Those cookies look amazing.