Natural Food

Basic shortbread biscuits

Shortbread cookies were my first baking love. They were the first biscuit I remember putting it in the oven myself, always for the holidays, always with a kid’s apron. I’ve developed some strong opinions about the shortbread front over the years, and I’m going to tell you the difference between great shortbread cookies and those that are just so-so. Shortbread cookies can be the best cookies on any cookie tray (controversial setting, I know!), And this post shows you how. I’ve featured shortbread on the site in many different ways over the years, but I love going back to that buttery, gold, classic version of shortbread.

The Secret to Great Shortbread Cookies

I should say secrets in the plural because there are actually a few that will help turn your shortbread game from good to great.

  • salt: Let’s start with that, it’s very simple. Many shortbread cookie recipes are under-salted, and that can make them taste flat and bland. Others call for salted butter, which can be great, but it’s harder to control the seasoning content. I’m not saying you’re going wild on the salt front, but treat it like an important ingredient. It is the ingredient that perfectly stages the toasted butter, sugar and flour.
  • thickness: For classic shortbread cookies like this one, I like to get fat. I’ve found that rolling out the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness is too thin and a full inch too thick. I’m aiming for somewhere in the 3/4 inch zone. This enables a golden crust with a crispy butter rim and a tender center.
    A stack of small shortbreads
  • baking time: I gave instructions in the recipe for the baking time, but in reality it’s all about a good eye and a good nose. Use your sight and your smell. Many of the shortbreads I’ve come across over the years are too pale, almost white. This is not what i’m looking for. Shortbread that is allowed to get pointy super golden and toasted where it hits the baking sheet with a touch of color over the rest of the cookie is so much better. This is how all the taste comes to life. It is literally the difference between butter and brown butter. Patience and attention pay off here. Float near the oven and let your shortbread roast.

Ingredients for making shortbread - flour, butter, sugar, salt

Ingredients in shortbread cookies

Shortbread magic happens when butter, sugar, flour and salt come together. The list of ingredients is incredibly short so you want to make sure that they all get to the point. Make sure your butter is good quality and has been recently purchased. You don’t want the butter to pick up refrigerator odors. I also like to use a fresh bag of flour when baking shortbread, some flours can absorb smells and aromas if they sit around too long.
Classic shortbread biscuits

Make-Ahead Shortbread Biscuits

The freezer is your friend here and shortcrust pastry, stored in an airtight container or double-wrapped in plastic, can stay frozen for months. You can freeze the dough before rolling it out or go through the cutting phase. Once you’ve rolled and cut your dough, transfer the unbaked cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them before placing them in an airtight container. Freeze until baked.Cookie dough prepared for the oven on a baking sheet

Fat or thin?

We talked a little about this above, but I have a few other things to say. When it comes to classic shortbread cookies, I tend to go for thicker ones. On the flip side, when I’ve loaded the dough with peel, nuts, spices, or other flavorings, I tend to roll out the dough a little thinner and cut the biscuits smaller for a more focused experience. All of this is of course personal preference. One thing to keep in mind here is the oven temperature. For thicker pastry, you can start with a slightly hotter oven to set the batter, then turn it back a little to prevent it from spreading. And with smaller, thinner shortbreads, you don’t have to worry too much about that. When in doubt, just keep an eye on things!
A close-up of four freshly baked shortbread biscuits

How do I stop my shortbread from spreading?

If you look at the photos above, you can see the difference between dough that has been properly chilled before baking (circles) and dough that hasn’t been chilled long enough (rectangles). The circles were perfectly shaped, while the larger rectangular plates were spread out a little. Another hour in the refrigerator or baking straight out of the freezer will likely fix this. If you’re still getting too much spread, reduce the time it takes to froth the butter and sugar as too much air is incorporated into the batter can also cause your cookies to spread. Lastly, check that your oven temperature is correct. If it gets low, you will have problems.Classic shortbread biscuits

Other shortbread cookie ideas

Once you have a shortbread recipe you love in your back pocket (hopefully this one!) There are many variables you can play around with.

  • Pan shortbread: bake directly in a cast iron pan or press the dough into a pan, mark with fork prongs, then bake. Either way, mark the top of the dough with fork tines to ensure a more even bake.
  • Try alternative flours: If you want to add other flours to this recipe, give it a try. I would start at 20% and take notes from there. Rye flour is always a good starting point, oat flour could be good or buckwheat flour. I’m also curious to introduce a percentage of something like almond flour but haven’t experimented with it yet. All of them would add dimension and depth.
  • Sugar crust: Many love it when coarse-grained sugar is sprinkled over the shortcrust pastry before baking. At the end, you get a crispy sugar crust and some glitter.

More shortbread!

I’ve baked and highlighted many shortbread cookies over the years and learned a lot. The Rosewater Shortbread Cookies and Toasted Almond Sables are my favorites in the non-classic category, but they’re all special in one way or another.

Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread: This is the Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Gohs Sweet. It’s incredible for a number of reasons. Imagine a crispy shortbread base that is thickly coated with a creamy tahini and halva mixture topped with shiny tahini caramel. It’s brilliant and a thin slice makes for perfect enjoyment.
Sliced ​​millionaire shortbread on marble table
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies: One of my favorites. Classic shortbread biscuits made from whole grain bread, smelling of rose water, sprinkled with roasted nuts and dried rose petals. They have a crispy, sugar sprinkle on top that makes for a satisfying, sweet tongue scrape, and they are topped with black sesame seeds. They are the most beautiful of the shortbreads.
Rose water shortbread cookies
Toasted Almond Sable Cookies // Toasty, nutty sable biscuits made from whole wheat flour, almond flakes, currants and salted butter. They are a prelude to Alice Medrich’s adorable Whole Wheat Sables, published in her book Pure Dessert.
Toasted almond and sable biscuits cut into teardrop shapes

There are also Apple & Carrot Shortbreads, Hearst Castle Shortbread Cookies, Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread Cookies, and Olive Biscuit Cookies. And you can also find all of them here biscuit recipes and baking recipes. Have fun baking everyone!


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