Saturday, December 04, 2010

Very Short Shortbread

No dastardly cunning required here. Unless you count the fact that heartfelt homebaked gifting doesn't get more simple-but-super. And really, who needs more complexity when there are turkeys to brine chestnuts to roast fruitcakes to bathe in rum?

The secret to sensational shortbread? Just ample great butter, a light touch, and the inclusion of cornflour - the last is responsible for the shortness, the melt-in-your-mouth marvel that is sinking teeth into the recipe which follows.

If you are the proud owner of a seasonally themed shortbread pan - such as the gorgeous snowflake embossed Nordic Ware one I've used (available at Shermay's Cooking School, alongside pretty piles of other festive irresistibles) - now is the perfect occasion to bust it out.

Very Short Shortbread
Yields one 9x9 inch pan

255 gm All-purpose/plain flour
75 gm Corn flour
255 gm Unsalted butter, cubed and softened, plus extra for greasing
½ tsp Fine salt
110 gm Icing sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract

1. Sift together the plain flour and corn flour into a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Place the cubed unsalted butter in the mixer bowl. Add the salt. Cream at medium speed for 1 minute. Add the icing sugar to the mixer bowl. Cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the bowl. Cream for another minute.
3. Add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until well combined.
4. Reduce mixer speed to the lowest setting and add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, mixing until just combined.
5. When ready to bake, set a rack in the lower half of the oven and preheat oven to 150˚C, fan-assisted mode. Thoroughly grease the shortbread pan with softened unsalted butter, using a small pastry brush to get to every nook and cranny of the intricate design.
6. Very firmly press the dough into the pan (if you are using the Nordic Ware pan, there is exactly enough dough to come up to the rope detailing on the perimeter of the pan).
7. Prick the surface of the dough lightly with a fork at regular 1-inch intervals.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned.
9. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cutting board, loosening the edges first with a plastic knife if necessary. Cut into squares whilst still warm. Cool completely on the wire rack before storing.

Storage: Store the shortbread between sheets of non-stick baking parchment in an air-tight container at room temperature, where it will keep for at least 1 week.

PS: S and D, thank you thank you thank you for the fabulous plate - I absolutely adore the Balcon du Guadalquivir china pattern!
PPS: Will be joining W shortly in Venice and Florence, can't wait, so an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in case I don't manage to update this space before 2010 comes to a close.