Saturday, June 23, 2012

Give or take...

Fresh berries are in here in the Hudson Valley, and I wanted something light but tasty as a carrier for the berries. I figured a shortbread cookie would be perfect. As I often do, I went to my King Arthur Flour Cookbook first, and was startled to find the following ingredient:

1-1/2 to 3 cups flour

What? A variance of 100%?! I mean, we all know that volumes of flour are inexact (which is why all my recipes use weight, not volume), but this makes my grandmother's recipes sound like nuclear physics by comparison!

Here's the slightly more precise recipe (rom Epicurious)I ended up using, which gave me just what I was looking for: a tasty, crumbly, but light base for the berries and whipped cream. And quick and easy to make. Don't skip the orange zest.

Scottish Shortbread
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (turbinado if you have it)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine chopped-up butter, sugar, zest, and salt in stand mixer or mix by hand until thoroughly blended. Add flour and mix with fingers. Form a ball, wrap dough in plastic, press into a disk, and place in refrigerator about 30 minutes (or freezer for 10).
  3. Leaving dough on plastic, press out with hands and/or floured rolling pin into about a 5 x 10-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Poke surface evenly with fork. Lightly score partway into serving-size pieces. Sprinkle top with sugar, and bake about 15-20 minutes until edges are brown and middle is just beginning to turn golden.
  5. Cut on score lines all the way through. Cool on rack. Top with berries and a dollop (1-8 tablespoons, as King Arthur might say) of freshly-whipped cream.


  1. When we make shortbread, we always double bake it.

    We bake them UNscored but fork-poked in a jellyroll pan at 250F on the uppermost shelf of the oven for about 80 minutes – until the bottom is golden but not dark. Then we remove them from the oven and while the shortbread is still warm, we use a straight edge to cut it into rectangles. Then standing the rectangles on their sides with plenty of space between each rectangle (we use a couple of cookie trays) we bake at 200F (note that the oven is set at a lower temperature) for another hour.

    This makes for the most brilliant nutty flavour. I confess that we have never made shortbread in the summer - for us it is a vehicle for mincemeat. But berries and cream with shortbread sound great. I like the sound of the added orange zest too.

    (Please excuse the shameless self-promotion - here is our shortbread recipe, if you'd like to see the flour/sugar/butter ratio:

    1. Are you kidding -- I'm the master of self-promotion. Thanks for the reply. Certainly no one can accuse you of rushing your shortbread!

  2. Hi William,
    Glad to know you enjoy working with our 200th Anniversary Cookbook. Yes, the Scottish Shortbread recipe on page 343 does give a pretty wide swing on the flour amount. This is intentional.

    The amount of flour in this particular recipe can vary from 1 1/2 to 3 cups. It's all up to your personal preference. For a firmer short bread, that will hold fluted edges or clear definition if using a stamp, head towards the 3 cup end. If baking in a traditional round pan, 1 1/2 cups is just right for an uber tender shortbread slice. Which ever way you prefer, this recipe is a favorite here at King Arthur. Happy Baking, Frank @ KAF.

    1. Who knew King Arthur is reading my blog? I'd better mind my manners. Thanks,Frank, for the clarification. And shortbread l-- whether the firm or tender variety -- is sadly underrated in this country.

  3. I made this exact recipe from the KA cookbook a few days back. Went towards 2 cups of flour and it turned out great!



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