How to Bake Perfect Shortbread

Shortbread originated in Scotland and was originally served only for special occasions, as the butter used in shortbread was considered a precious commodity.

Tasty shortbread cookiesTasty shortbread cookies
Shortbread cookies are fairly easy to make, and they take a minimum of ingredients and time. One 11 x 17 pan will hold approximately 63 rectangular, bar-shaped cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the room-temperature butter and sugar. Stir together until smooth and creamy. Use salted butter, as it heightens the flavor of the cookie. About a minute of hand mixing should bring the mixture to the proper consistency. When it is done, the sugar/butter mixture should be light and fluffy.

Stir flour into the butter and sugar mixture one cup at a time. When the last cup has been added, the dough should be crumbly and break apart in your hands.

Spread dough evenly onto the cookie sheet. If you use a standard 11 x 17 jelly pan-- which has more depth than a standard cookie sheet and can accommodate the slight rise of the dough--the dough should sit just below the top of the pan.

Spread and press the dough onto the pan with your hands until it is fairly even. If the dough is thinner is some parts, uneven cooking will occur.

Use fork to make decorative marks in the dough. In an 11 x 17 pan, there should be approximately five rows of marks across and eight lengthwise.

Using a tablespoon or your fingers, sprinkle sugar lightly onto dough.

Put dough into oven. Cook at 350 F. for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F. Continue to cook for 15 minutes. Just the edges of the dough should be a golden color.

Take cookies out of oven. Cut them using a knife or a cookie cutter shortly after they leave the oven. If cutting with a knife, make seven rows across, each approximately 1 1/2 inches wide, and nine rows lengthwise, just under two inches long, to make a standard-size a shortbread cookie.

Let the cookies cool down for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling sheet.

Things You Will Need

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • 1 lb. salted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups flour, unbleached
  • fork
  • 11 x 17 jelly pan

Tips

  • Use heart cookie cutters and red sugar to make festive Valentine's Day treats.
  • Always use salted butter when making shortbread. Unsalted butter will leave your cookies tasting bland. The salt heightens the yummy flavors of the butter.
  • Unbleached flour gives the cookies a more natural taste; always use it.

Warning

  • People often try to melt the butter in a microwave rather than letting it warm to room temperature. By doing this, you are playing with the consistency/texture and taste of the butter-and-sugar mixture. This is why melting the butter does not give the best results.

About the Author

Sarah Kate Robbins began writing professionally in 2010 for eHow and Answerbag. She specializes in articles on child developement, education and travel. She has a master's degree in Library and Information Sciences with a concentration in youth services.