Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shortbread ...


You can't get any easier than this. Three ingredients and some time in the oven. My friend Gemma once asked, "Can't we just eat a stick of butter dipped in flour?" Yes, these have a lot of butter in them, but they're never greasy. They're delightful. Shortbread - and variations on shortbread, like the Russian Teacakes - are my favorite cookie. I love simple flavors. The Girl Scout shortbread was my favorite when I was a kid, but the recipe's changed and they're not the same, no longer worth eating.

When you make this recipe, you might look in the bowl after you've cut in the butter and think you've done something wrong. Nope, you haven't. It's supposed to look that dusty. Dump it onto a clean counter and start smooshing it together, kneading not like for bread dough but pressing your palm into the dough in a linear movement away from you, smearing it as you go, then gather it back into a ball and start over again. Think of a stone-skipping motion. That's what you're doing. Not the throwing of the stone, but the action of the stone skipping across the water. Keep at it for a few minutes and the next thing you know, you'll have gorgeous, smooth dough.

Shortbread
(From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Published Meredith Corporation, 1989)

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1/2 C. butter

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter till mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Form mixture into a ball and knead till smooth. To make wedges, on an ungreased cookie sheet pat or roll dough into an 8-inch circle. Using your fingers, press to make a scalloped edge. With a knife, cut circle into 16 pie-shape wedges. Leave wedges in the circle shape. Bake in a 325 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till bottom just starts to brown and center is set. Cut circle into wedges again while warm. Cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on a wire rack.

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