Shortbread

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KAF guaranteed, quick-n-easy
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 dozen shortbread wedges

Recipe photo

Shortbread is a wonderful starting point for all kinds of sweet adventures: top it (nuts, chocolate, jam); flavor it (lemon, hazelnut, coconut); or do both (cappuccino with a mocha ganache drizzle, anyone?). Then again, if you're a "make mine vanilla, please" kind of guy or gal, leave it alone; it can stand on its own in perfect simplicity.

Our guarantee: This light-gold, crisp/flaky shortbread is buttery and mildly sweet. It will be about 1/4" thick.

Read our blog about shortbread, with additional photos, at Flourish.

Shortbread

star rating (80) rate this recipe »
KAF guaranteed, quick-n-easy
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 dozen shortbread wedges
Published: 01/01/2010

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature*
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional, or the flavor of your choice; eggnog flavor makes a delicious holiday shortbread
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • *Since butter is such a critical element in these cookies, we recommend you use a top-quality butter. Our test-kitchen choice is Cabot.

Tips from our bakers

  • Want to make shortbread drop cookies? Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten each ball of dough to about 3/8" thick; use the bottom of a drinking glass, the tines of a fork, a cookie stamp, or whatever implement you think will make a pretty pattern. Bake the cookies for about 25 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven, until they're set but not really beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans, or on a rack. Yield: about 4 dozen small (1 3/8") cookies.
  • To give your shortbread festive flavor for the holidays, omit the almond extract, and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon eggnog flavor and a pinch of grated nutmeg to the dough.
  • If you're having trouble pressing the shortbread flat in the pan because it's sticking to your fingers, cover it with a piece of plastic wrap, and push on the wrap. Remove the wrap before baking.
  • Although we usually use unsalted butter in our baking here at King Arthur, in this case salted is preferred. Why? Because, with no liquid in the recipe, it's impossible for added salt to disperse itself fully through the shortbread dough; you end up with unpleasantly gritty bits of salt in each bite.
  • Vary the flavor of your shortbread with the following simple additions. For ginger shortbread: add 1/3 cup finely diced ginger and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. For butter-pecan shortbread: add 1/8 teaspoon butter rum flavor and 1 cup finely diced toasted pecans. For chai-spiced shortbread: add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon crushed cardamom, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9" cake pans. If you worry about the shortbread possibly sticking in your particular pans, line them with parchment, and grease the parchment.

2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won't come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.

3) Divide the dough in half (if you have a scale, each half will weigh about 10 1/2 ounces), and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin.

4) Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. Prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.

5) Bake the shortbread until it's a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.

6) Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.

7) Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it's cool, it won't cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.

8) Serve as is, or decorate. Here are a few suggestions:
Drizzle with melted caramel;
Spread with melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts;
Set aside two shortbread cookies, and spread the remainder of the cookies with a thick layer of jam or preserves. Crumble the reserved cookies, and sprinkle the crumbs lightly over the jam.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 wedge (25g) Servings Per Batch: 24 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120 Calories from Fat: 70 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 55mg Total Carbohydrate: 12g Dietary Fiber: 0g Sugars: 5g Protein: 1g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.

Reviews

1 2345678  All  
  • star rating 04/13/2015
  • Nancy from CT
  • This shortbread is absolutely delicious. I've made it several times, and it always comes out perfect: crisp and buttery. My only difficulty is trying to make an even layer in the pan. Even though some pieces may be slightly thicker than others, it doesn't seem to matter; they all taste wonderful. My favorite way to have them is just plain, with some vanilla ice cream as accompaniment. A good embellishment is melted caramel drizzled over or melted semi-sweet chocolate (not both! I tried that once, and it was too much.) Here's a link to tips from one of our blogs about making an even shortbread: bit.ly/1IGgzsJ Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 04/12/2015
  • Pam from Ohio
  • Rating a recipe "untried" is ridiculous especially if you then refer to another recipe . If you want to promote your recipe set up a blog but please don't waste time rating something you have never tried Unlike you I have used this recipe and it's great
  • star rating 03/05/2015
  • cookieluv from KAF Community
  • Thank you to Cahow from MI for sharing her grandmother's 100 year old recipe & Jamiemommie from IL for the suggestion. Using Cahow's recipe, I omitted the vanilla (per Jamiemommie's suggestion), but added 1/2 t. baking soda to the mix. The result was an authentic shortbread flavor! Will definitely make these again, they are delish :-)
  • star rating 01/22/2015
  • Michelle from Port Jervis, NY
  • These are the best homeade shortbread. The texture is spot on and the taste is delicious. They taste better as they sit. I used the almond extract in addition to vanilla. A perfect cookie. One of my all time faves.
  • star rating 01/04/2015
  • Cahow from Michigan
  • I gave this recipe, untried, a 5 star rating because I did NOT want to reduce the rating for it since there isn't a dedicated "Comment/Question" button. I've been eating shortbread for 62 years of my life and making it for almost as long. Initially, I thought your recipe was identical to mine (which is over 100 years old) but then I saw the HUGE ratio of Powdered Sugar to the rest of the ingredients. If anyone is interested, here is my Gran's 100+ year recipe: (You can double it for the large Nordic Ware pans, leave as is for the stoneware pans from Brown Bag.) I stick of unsalted butter; 1/3 cup of Powdered Sugar, unsifted; 1/4 teaspoon of Vanilla (optional); a pinch of salt and 1 Cup of All Purpose Flour (King Arthurs, of course!). Set oven for 325, cream butter, add powder sugar but SIFT it into the butter; mix well, add vanilla. Add flour by 1/4 amounts, sifting as you go along. Work well into butter, Hand shape or push into molded pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes JUST until the edges become pale brown and the centre of the dough doesn't glisten. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, pop out of pan or if free form, remove from rack. Cut shortbread BEFORE it cools or it shatters. Enjoy!
  • star rating 12/10/2014
  • Caity from Decatur, GA
  • This was easy and delicious. I used salted Cabot butter as recommended, and it was wonderful.
  • star rating 12/06/2014
  • stephenl69 from KAF Community
  • Just like my nana's short bread. Took me right back 30 years. Texture and flavour were perfect. I used an unsalted Irish butter and added sea salt.
  • star rating 12/06/2014
  • Kay from Austin, TX
  • Pretty good. I'm not sure it's the best I've ever made, but the recipe seems pretty similar to others I've seen.
  • star rating 11/29/2014
  • Henrietta from Chicago, IL
  • I tried making shortbread for the first time with this recipe. The cookies taste delicious! I used the best butter I could find. Next time though, I will try a 7" or 8" pan, because I would like the cookies to be thicker. I will have to keep testing for doneness because I imagine the baking time would need to be adjusted.
  • star rating 06/19/2014
  • Mary from Virginia
  • I baked these in a springform pan, using 9 inch parchment rounds from KAF. It made removal easy, and I prepared and refrigerated the second half on parchment while the first half baked. Thanks to a comment from another baker, I lowered the sugar to 2/3 cup and the vanilla to one teaspoon. We and our guests loved them.
1 2345678  All  
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