I know. Shortnin’ bread is a fried batter bread, the ingredients of which include corn meal, flour, hot water, eggs, baking powder, milk and shortening. (Well, I didn’t know that until Wikipedia told me.) And this post is about shortbread cookies. Not the same thing at all. So sue me. :)
About halfway between Moses Lake (where we lived) and Seattle there is this wonderful place called Thorp’s. The top two floors are chock full of antiques. (SO fun!) The bottom floor has wonderful local produce and lots of specialty food items. Like the most delicious sour cherry preserve I’ve ever tasted. And some really terrific lemon shortbread cookies. They aren’t cheap, two palm sized cookies for $4. $4!!!! But they’re wonderful. I made the trip over to Seattle every month (at least) during my last pregnancy, and I’d almost always get those cookies. And as I drove away I’d think to myself . . .
Me: you dolt. You can bake! Why aren’t you baking your own shortbread, instead of paying through the nose for theirs?
I: Yeah! They’re just shortbread and a lemon glaze!
Me: Well, why don’t you make a batch when we get home?
I: Okay! I’ll make my own when we get home! Then I can have these whenever I want! I can even freeze the dough and keep it on hand!
Me: We’ll see. . . .
Um, yeah. Only after I had my baby and didn’t have to make the monthly trip to Seattle did I finally get off my kiester and make my own shortbread. I’ve been racking my brain to recall where I found this recipe, but I can’t remember. Anyhow, it’s the best. It makes the most fantastic shortbread. Which is what I now make when the kids want to decorate cookies! The dough is sturdier, and tastier, than regular sugar cookies, and the cookies bake up to be much firmer. So they won’t snap into a thousand pieces when eager little hands try to smear a cup of frosting on top! My favorite combination is a vanilla shortbread with lemon glaze, but this recipe lends itself to a plethora of combinations. Add ginger, clove and cinnamon and top with lemon frosting for a yummy gingerbread flavor. Or substitute butter flavoring (the only application I’ve ever found for that bottle that I don’t remember how I came by!) for the vanilla and smear Nutella on top. OMGravy. Peppermint extract in the cookies and a vanilla glaze with crushed candy canes sprinkled over the top makes them perfect for Christmas. The latest incarnation was almond extract and raspberry buttercream. Mmmmmmm. So, I’ll leave you with the base recipe and the lemon glaze I like with it, and you can tweak it to your heart’s content!
Perfect Shortbread with Lemon Glaze
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar and the butter and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and slowly mix to combine.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the dough onto it.
Shape it into a flat disk and wrap tightly.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the dough out (I use a silicone mat, but you could just lightly dust a countertop with flour) to 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut out with whatever cookie cutter your heart desires. Alternately, you could just use a knife and cut into squares or rectangles. Or triangles. Or octagons. Or octopi. Or orangutans. Or ostriches. You get the idea.
Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies are set and juuuuust starting to get a little color. Not brown. Usually 10 minutes for small cookies and 13 minutes for palm sized cookies. I just hover over the first batch and then I have a reference for subsequent ones.
When the cookies are cool; dip in chocolate, frost or drizzle with glaze.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
zest and juice from one medium sized lemon (about 3 tablespoons of juice)
With a mesh sieve, sift the sugar into a bowl.
Add the zest and juice and whisk to combine.
Let the glaze set for about 2 hours before attempting to stack cookies. Even then I like to insert little squares of parchment paper in between them so they don’t stick together. Just wipe down the paper you used to bake them with and cut that up into squares. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Thanks, Bob the Builder.
Note: In our house, we prefer buttercream to royal icing for our decorated cookies. To store them, I just stack them on a cake plate with parchment or wax paper layered between them. Then I cover the whole thing with saran wrap.
Oh, I wanted to show you something. This is what inspired me to get baking the other day, I went from this method of getting my kitchen clean (please excuse the miscellaneous crap all over the place.) . . . .
Jay is planning on building a little panel to go in that excess space to the left of the BRAND, SPANKING NEW DISHWASHER!!!!! I have the most awesome landlord! I was in love with this house but a little skittish about living without a dishwasher so he had one installed for us!!!! Seriously, how awesome is that??? Anywho, as soon as it was installed I had an urgent desire to dirty up some dishes, so Amelia and I made those cookies :)