"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Monday, December 17, 2012

Traditional Shortbread

I titled this post traditional shortbread, not because I believe that this is the most traditional recipe, I'm not quite sure that it is, but it definitely is traditional in the sense that it is a christmas tradition in my house to bake these shortbread every year.  Christmas is all about traditions and revisiting those traditions year after year.  I remember always having these at christmas.  My mom would make them using the same five green plastic cutters every year: a star, angel, christmas tree, santa and a camel.  She would also decorate them simply with rainbow nonpareils and store them in the same beautiful 12 days of Christmas tin.  They were so special and such a treat and a cookie that I will always bake this time of year.  It just wouldn't be Christmas without them and a recipe that I genuinely enjoy doing.

Here is the recipe that we use. I hope you will bake some and make it a tradition in your home.

Hello Butter! You will need 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature.  I did not use all the butter pictured here for one batch.  

1/2 cup icing sugar (sift if lumpy).  Usually I find I don't have to when I use a new bag just opened. Also, Redpath is a great brand and I find never has those crusty hard lumps.

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted. 

1tsp vanilla.  Vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans scraped from the pod would also be wonderful

This dough is so quick and simple to pull together.  Cream the butter and slowly add all of the icing sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.

NEXT: Add the sifted flour to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, vanilla and 1/2tsp salt

mix well (do not over mix!!) just until the everything has come together

Let the shortbread dough rest for 1hr in the fridge.  Take it out and let it soften a little until ready to roll.  Then lightly flour your surface and roll out your dough anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2" thick.  I like my cookies on the thicker side.  I lay out all the cutters I want to use beside the dough and place a small pile of flour to dip the cutters in before I cut them out of the dough.

Use any festive, christmassy, holiday cutter you like.  I have some that are really old from when I was little and some really special ones my aunt used to use.  Most are from Wilton or Williams-Sonoma.  After placing them on the baking sheet I refrigerated them for about 10mins before putting them in a 350 oven to bake for about 7-10mins, depending on the size of your cookies.  Larger cookies will take longer as smaller ones will take less time.  You don't want to see any browning happening so check your cookies often.   

Let the cookies cool for 5mins before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.  To make the messages I stamped I used Message 'n' a Cookie cutters available at Williams-Sonoma.

Once completely cooled store them in a tin or air tight container and keep them in a cool place. Mine our in the 12 days of christmas tin, as you'll always find them at christmas

Merry Cookies!

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