12 Days of Cookies – Day 1
I am beginning my “Cookie A Day” baking project in preparation for the holidays today. My theme is the Twelve Cookies of Christmas – even though it’s quite a while before the holidays. I am hoping to post my recipes in advance of the holidays – as I will be busy shopping and wrapping soon!
I posted some tips regarding baking better cookies here https://gardenlove.food.blog/2019/11/23/how-to-bake-the-best-cookies/
I thought it would be a good idea to try and improve my baking as I go and explain and improve.
This first recipe is my late father-in-law’s traditional recipe for shortbread cookies. It is a dry dry dry recipe with only 4 ingredients. There are many methods of baking shortbread out there but they all generally follow the formula of:
2 cups flour to 1/2 pound butter to 1/4 cup sugar.
Variations occur in the salted vs unsalted butter, whether vanilla is added, the type of flour used and the type of sugar used. Shortbread is generally cooked slowly and at a lower temperature than other cookies, and are generally unleavened. The dough is typically dry – so it is shaped together – kneaded and pressed in to shape.
Poppa’s Shortbread Cookie Recipe
1 pound softened butter (salted)
4 cups all purpose flour (3 3/4 cups mixed in – 1/4 reserved for kneading)
1 package rice flour (227g)
1 cup fruit sugar (this is a fine sugar which dissolves instantly – look for Redpath)
Mix softened butter with sugar, rice flour and first cup of flour. Mix gradually, and slowly add the rest of the flour. This will form a dry powder crumbly batter. My father in law kneaded the batter continually and rolled into a round ball – flattening with a knife or rolling pin.
My method is to roll into a ball within parchment paper. This reduces my “kneading anxiety” and the mess. I break the batter in to 2 or 3 sections or balls – as this is a large quantity to make. I flatten the dough out in between parchment paper sheets and then place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake in preheated 250 to 275 degree oven for one hour until very lightly browned.
Cut in to smaller pieces while still hot.
This recipe is a traditional recipe that doesn’t use a blender and has a rougher – uneven surface. Now that we are in the days of instagram foodie cooking you may want a more perfect cookie!
Newer more perfect recipes will use more sugar, less flour and may blend. They will be more uniform and smooth. You can try a proportion of:
2 cups flour to 1/2 pound butter to 3/4 cups icing sugar for a sweeter flavour – cream the butter first and blend in a food processor or with a mixer. Press the whole mixture in to a parchment lined pan with raised edges and flatten evenly. (a baking sheet)
The rice flour in the traditional recipe makes the recipe a little softer, dry, and fluffy. You do not absolutely need to use it – but there is a texture variation.
This traditional recipe calls for fast dissolving fruit sugar. It’s harder to find in the grocery store so you can switch for icing sugar if you prefer. The idea is that icing or fruit sugar has smaller grains, and is less sweet than granulated sugar. This should help the cookies to have a smoother surface and a dryer taste.
My father in law crumbled the butter and flour together and kneaded and kneaded. This creates a rougher, crumbly shortbread. If you want to process in a food processor or blender, go ahead! It’s certainly less frustrating and tidier. Remember our ancestors didn’t own food processors.
Surface texture – I didn’t put holes in the surface of my shortbread. I was trying to follow my recipe to the letter and it left that part out. After the shortbread dough has been formed and placed on the cookie sheet – perforate with tiny fork holes to let the dough breath during baking. My husband let me know as I was cutting up the cookies!
This batch of cookies is done and ready to pack away. The cookies are uneven and crumbly but have a dry and light not too sweet flavour. I’ll be making more.