Thursday, October 29, 2009

Butter Shortbread

Butter Shortbread - October 29, 2009

I love shortbread. I rarely make it because when I do, I'm forced to acknowledge how much butter is in good shortbread. Hard to be in denial when the recipe is staring right at you. Shortbread is very straightforward to put together - you mix the ingredients until you get a nice dough and pat it in the pan as evenly as possible. The tricky part with shortbread is the baking time. All the directions say to bake the shortbread when it's golden brown all over but that's really very subjective. If you bake it too long, it's too crispy and the butter can taste burnt. If you don't bake it long enough, the shortbread isn't crisp and is somewhat chewy which is not the texture you're going after with shortbread.

I like to use a rectangular tart pan with a removeable bottom when I make shortbread, rather than a round tart pan like so many recipes call for. When it's the shape as the second picture above, it browns more evenly all over whereas when you use a round tart pan, the edges get brown first then it seems like the middle takes forever to brown while the edges get more and more brown.

This recipe is from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson and is a nice, simple shortbread recipe. I think I baked this one just a trifle too long as it was just the tiniest bit too crispy. But when it comes to shortbread, I'd rather overbake than underbake (this is probably the only time you'll see me say that). When I was baking it this morning, I was also working out at the same time while it was in the oven so I didn't reach it in time to take it out properly.

Once you have the shortbread to desired doneness, when you take it out, give it a couple of minutes then, while it's still hot, take it out of the pan (pans with removeable bottoms make this really easy) then slice it. When shortbread cools, it hardens and crisps up so it's more difficult to cut evenly. So cut it while it's hot and you'll get cleaner knife cuts. This one turned out pretty well with a good buttery taste but I have an even better recipe for shortbread that I'll post later. It's got butterscotch and toffee bits and goes really well with a buttery shortbread. But that'll be a future post.

Butter Shortbread
1 ¼ cups unsifted bleached, all-purpose flour
¼ cup rice flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

About 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top of the baked shortbread

Bakeware: fluted 9 ½-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom)

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Film the inside of the tart pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. Sift the all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
3. Cream the butter in large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until smooth. Blend in the superfine sugar and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes longer on low speed. Blend in the sifted flour mixture in two additions, mixing slowly until the particles of flour are absorbed and a soft, smooth dough is created. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the dough even-textured. The dough will be soft and lightly sticky.
4. Transfer the dough to the tart pan, and lightly press it into an even layer. Prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork in about 15 random places.
5. Bake the shortbread in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set, and an all-over medium tan color on top. The shortbread must be baked through, otherwise the core will be tacky.
6. Place the pan of shortbread on a cooling rack and immediately dust the top with granulated sugar. Cool for 10 minutes.
7. Carefully unmold the shortbread, leaving it on its round base. After 10 to 15 minutes, cut into even-sized wedges, using a sharp chef’s knife. To slice cleanly and neatly, the shortbread must be cut while still warm. Cool completely.

No comments:

Post a Comment