Classic Shortbread

from Emily (who loves food)

Classic buttery, crumbly, melty shortbread with a teeny hint of vanilla, rolled in snowy icing sugar.

Simple and delicious.

Especially if you can’t cut them straight.

The recipe (courtesy of domestic godess Nigella) uses the classic ratio of one part sugar, two parts butter, three parts flour, which is the basis of all good shortbread. Forget rising agents. They have no place here. Popping in cornflour and icing sugar heralds a softer, more delicate biscuit – far better than anything out of a packet.

I made these this morning, underneath a dark raincloud that was brooding overhead. The weather is crazy at the moment. I’ll be walking to uni in the blazing sunlight, with my phone telling me that it’s 23C, and people are standing at the traffic lights in T-shirts and shorts… and then today, it hails. Apparently though, we’ve had (here in New Zealand) the second warmest July since they started writing down temperatures.

Weather aside though, I have a new job.

I know, it wasn’t that long ago that my soon-to-be-ex-job was my new job. But honestly, all these part-time gigs are good for is giving my enough money to buy clothes of Urban Outfitters. I don’t want to be a career retailer, or run a call-centre. Or be a supermarket demonstrator for the rest of my life – but for now, that actually sounds quite good.

So that’s what I’ll be doing – giving out testers and tasters on supermarket corners. The pay is good and the hours are good, so I can’t disagree with that.

The only problem is getting to the supermarkets.

Don’t get me wrong, I can drive.

But I can also get lost.

And the GPS on my phone has flaked out.

So I’ve just spent the last 15 mins copy and pasting the same desperate email to a bunch of phone repair companies, pleading them to come to my aid.

Oh well. At least I have some shortbread in hand.




Classic Shortbread - Makes 30 peices

Prep time: 15mins  Cook time: 22-25mins

  • 100g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 100g cornflour (cornstarch) + 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence, or the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • more icing sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 160C, and line a swiss roll tray with non-stick paper.

Pop the icing sugar, cornflour and plain flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse quickly to combine.

Add the butter and vanilla, and pulse until the mixture looks like fat grains of sand, and begins to clump around the blade. You also know it’s ready if you can take a small handful, squeeze it in your hand, and the mixture comes together to form a solid dough. If it’s still crumbly, it’s not ready yet.

Tip out the mixture into your prepared swiss roll tray, and press flat and even with the back of a spoon (and, if you’re like me, your hands too.) It’ll take a wee bit of working, but keep at it until you achieve a nice smooth surface.

Now take a knife, and cut your lovely shortbread into squares or fingers or diamonds or whatever suits you, being sure to cut all the way through the dough. Finally, take a fork, and puncture each square/finger/diamond two or three times, before popping the tray in the oven, and baking for 22-25mins.

When they’re ready, the shortbread should still be creamy coloured, but not doughy, and possibly a little golden around the edges. These definitely aren’t ‘bake to golden brown’ cookies though – you want to take them out far before that stage.

If you need to, retrace the lines you cut earlier with a sharp knife, but leave the biscuits in the tray for at least ten minuets before removing – just to let them cool and settle.

Dust with icing sugar, and eat alongside a cuppatea.

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