Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
B Edulis

Shortbread

Recommended Posts

Once again, I tried to recreate my mother's shortbread cookies, using her recipe, and they didn't turn out. They were so crumbly they fell apart when you picked them up. I'm very attached to this particular recipe -- she told me that she got it from the first boy who ever kissed her, whose Scottish mother was renowned for them. That's one way to get a recipe!) She made them at all holidays. Here the recipe:

1 cup of butter

1/2 cup of sugar

2 cups of flour

pinch salt

I've been creaming the butter and suger and adding the flour, chilling it and rolling it out and baking them at about 300 degrees. They spread more than hers did and they're just way crumbly. The taste is good, though.

I wish I could as her for advice, but she's no longer with us -- can anyone help me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve not made shortbread in years, so I’ve gone and consulted books by Jane Grigson and Sue Lawrence. Both suggest a slightly hotter oven (325F) than you are using. Both also give weight measurement rather than by cup.

Lawrence:

4oz salted butter

2oz caster sugar

6oz plain flour

2oz semolina (Flour and semolina worked in together)

Lawrence warns against overworking the mixture. Simply knead into a ball and shape as you wish. She also says she never uses rolling pin, preferring the use of her hands, and neither suggests cooling mixture in fridge before baking.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Try your recipe, do everything the same--but after you prepare the dough, roll it into a log (the diameter should be about an inch to 1.5" max) and wrap in plastic and then refrigerate.

You could also paint the log with egg wash and roll the log in granulated sugar before you wrap it up in plastic wrap.

Let rest for 4 hours in the fridge, remove the plastic, slice 1/4" thick discs with a sharp paring knife and bake as usual.  Report back.  Do not let them "color" too much.

Freezing the wrapped dough, then slicing while still frozen might help, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it possible that your mother used powdered sugar and/or cake flour in whole or part without noting it in the actual recipe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For comparison, my shortbread cookie is 430g butter, 250g 10X, 1 T vanilla extract, pinch salt and 585g cake flour--10 minutes at 190 C (375 F).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't tried your recipe, but I would suggest you use bar sugar -- extra fine, but without the cornstarch of 10x sugar, and substitute 1/4 of the total flour with rice flour.  The rice flour has no gluten, which may not help your "crumbly" problem, but you can work the dough a bit more without worrying about making it tough.  The bar sugar melts better, and herein may be your solution.  Good luck.  Love shortbread, myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may have to do with the type of flour you are using.  According to Shirley Corriher's great book, Cookwise, cookie doughs spread more when there is more liquid in them, and different flours absorb different amounts of liquid.  It's possible your mother was using a higher protein flour -- try unbleached if you've been using bleached.  Northern brand flours (like Hecker's) also have higher protein and more liquid absorbtion than national brands (Gold medal, Pillsbury's)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow, great! Lots of good ideas to try. One of the things I like about Mother's recipe is its mathematical elegance: one part sugar, twice as much butter, twice as much flour. So I think I'll try Steve's log method first. Then move on, if necessary, to other possibilities.

I'll let you know! Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How's your butter?  You want it room temperature, but not mushy.  I don't speak from personal experience, as I'm not a big cookie maker, but somewhere in my stuff I have an article explaining the importance of this for successful cookies.  If you'd like to know more, let me know and I'll dig it out and give you the skinny.

Cats

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a matter of fact, I had pulled the butter out of the freezer, then popped it into the mike to soften it. It got a little softer than I had planned, sorta melty. But since I was going to refrigerate the dough, anyway, I didn't think it made any difference. But maybe it does.

I'm going back in the kitchen this weekend, and try out some of these suggestions. If I don't report back, send help....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made another batch last weekend and followed Catseye's advice and made sure the butter was cold. Ther was a marked improvement -- the cookies were still too crumbly, but much firmer than they had been. I also turned the oven up as Steve Klc suggested and I think that helped, too. But they're melting and spreading in the oven, and my mother's held their shape and even the fork pricks that decorated each one. So, I'll start working my way down the list of other suggestions. Failure is such sweet sorrow....

That's it from the shortbread factory for now.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

B--I suggest you weigh your Mom's "recipe" out and compare it to others here, too--otherwise you're spinning your wheels testing things you can't quantify or calibrate.

After you have your technique down--then you can start playing with flour and sugar substitutions.

It's easy to like mathematical elegance, expressed in volume, in theory--but it is not a guarantee of performance and can hinder consistency.

And if you have one of those oven thermometers, make sure you take a reading of your oven--and compare see if it matches up to your setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am looking for a shortbread recipie that would be good for the lemon pistachio tart in another recent thread. Can anyone point me to a recipie or have one you can post?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my basic shortbread cookie dough:

430g butter, 250g 10X, 1 T vanilla extract, pinch salt and 585g cake flour--10 minutes at 190 C (375 F)

I could have sworn I posted this before--did you search? You could also grate some zest into this.

There's a very nice Breton shortbread dough in the Bau pastry book, as well, to compare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve, maybe the eGullet Recipes would benefit by adding a category for basic foods that appear as elements in many recipes.

Of course these things appear over and over in cookbooks . But there's such a comfort level when a recipe has been used by someone we know personally or whose posts we've followed on eGullet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI--here's one of my adaptations of the Bau "Breton" which might go well in that tart application:

160 g egg yolks

320 g sugar

300 g salted butter, soft

20 g olive oil

450 g AP flour

30 g baking powder

lemon zest

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just given a clay mold in the shape of a rooster for shortbread, or whatever, and I have a couple of questions.

1. How do I clean the mold? I'd like to do this since it's been in someone's basement for a while.

2. Are there any tips for using a mold?

My recipe is basically

1 pt. 10x

2 pts. butter

3 pts flour

salt.

:smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooooh, I love shortbread and shortbread molds! Don't get me started!

If your mold is a fired ceramic, it may be made for baking in. Just wash it first with soap and water, as you would any ceramic dish, and let it dry completely before using.

But if you don't want to bake in it, you can press your shortbread dough into the oiled and floured mold and turn it out onto a baking sheet. Here's my recipe for shortbread, using my 9" round thistle-design ceramic mold (Baker's Catalog still sells it); it explains what I do when using the mold only to shape the dough, not to bake in:

SHORTBREAD

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (using dip-and-sweep method of measuring)

1/2 cup rice flour (using dip-and-sweep method of measuring)

3/8 cup sugar

Position oven-rack at center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour round, thistle-design mold. Rub together butter, flour, rice flour, and sugar until dough coheres into ball. Knead until smooth. Press into mold from center outward, to fill all recesses of mold. Loosening edges of dough with knife, turn out onto light-colored aluminum cookie sheet lined with non-stick silicone baking mat. Bake for 20 minutes, or just until edges turn lightly golden. Remove from oven. Slice into wedges while still warm, cutting from edges toward center to minimize crumbling at edges. Cool to room temperature.

I oil the mold by brushing a light coat of vegetable oil on the mold, making sure to cover all the recesses of the design. I have never tried brushing melted butter on the mold, and I wonder whether that would be effective and whether that would make any difference in the taste. Anyone???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, browniebaker, I'll try it out. For somereason, this is making me nervous!

Dave, my measurements are by volume, so I just wrote down the parts, hoping that no one would jump all over me for not converting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks, browniebaker, I'll try it out.  For somereason, this is making me nervous!

Dave, my measurements are by volume, so I just wrote down the parts, hoping that no one would jump all over me for not converting.

I wasn't jumping, dear. I was asking. Sorry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nooo, I didn't mean you. It's just something I've noticed happens. I am planning on converting my recipes to weight, but don't have time at the mo. :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By WhiskerBiscuit
      I’m using this recipe to try and make a perfect rice pudding.
       
      Ingredients:
       
      1-2 Tbsp medium-grain white rice, such as arborio (often called risotto rice), calriso, or another california-grown rice--do not wash! 2/3 c additional long-grain or short-grain rice to make 2/3 cups rice total 4 c milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole, or a combination) 1/3-1/2 c sugar, to taste 1 tsp pure vanilla extract   Recipe:   Place the rice and milk in the rice cooker bowl; stir to combine. Close the cover and set for the Porridge cycle. When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, open the rice cooker, and add the sugar and vanilla, quickly stirring it into the rice milk mixture. Stir until combined. Close the cover and reset for a second Porridge cycle. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes until the desired consistency is reached. Warning: cooking the sugar for more than about 1/2-hour makes the pudding difficult to clean from the rice cooker bowl, so don't add sugar at the beginning of cooking (although the rice pudding comes out fine)! Rice mixture will thicken as it cools. If it comes out too thick, just add more milk.    I initially tried it out using all arborio rice (because that’s all I head on hand), but as the recipe noted it came out too starchy.  However it was really good, but not what I was looking for.  The second time I used the suggested rice mixture.  But looking at other recipes and Kozy Shack’s ingredient list, I decided to add a couple of egg yolks.  At the end of the second porridge cycle (total cooking time 90 minutes) I added two coddled egg yolks (I almost pasteurized them with my sous vide, but that was a little overboard even for me).  The texture was a little too thick, so I added a tablespoon or so of milk and then thought it was too thin so I kept with the porridge cycle.  I checked about 15 minutes later and my thick porridge all of a sudden became a liquid soup.  I kept cooking and after an hour it reduced to the thickness I wanted, but the rice broke almost completely down.  What I want to know is what happened to make it go from a thick porridge to soup in a very short amount of time.  Was it adding the egg yolks?  There has got to be some science-y reason behind it.    
    • By Kasia
      COURGETTE MUFFINS WITH LEMON
       
      Since I found the recipe for courgette muffins with lemon on the Polish blog gotujzcukiereczkiem I decided to prepare them. My children looked at the ingredients with surprise. Courgette and cakes don't go together well. The argument that they add caster sugar to the courgette pancakes didn't convince them. The muffins reminded my husband of the lemon cake his grandma used to prepare many years ago. I just liked them. They were short lived, because they disappeared in no time, slightly lemony, moist and not too sweet. They were perfect.

      If I didn't know they had courgette in them, I would never believe it. Try it, because it is worth it.

      Ingredients (for 12 muffins)
      muffins
      200g of flour
      a pinch of salt
      half a teaspoon of baking soda
      half a teaspoon of baking powder
      150g of sugar
      peel from one lemon
      a tablespoon of lemon juice
      2 eggs
      150ml of oil
      a teaspoon of vanilla essence
      a teaspoon of lemon essence
      210g of grated courgette
      icing:
      3 tablespoons of milk
      10 tablespoons of caster sugar
      1 teaspoon of lemon essence

      Heat the oven up to 170C. Put some paper muffin moulds into the "dimples" of a baking pan for muffins.
      Mix together the dry ingredients of the muffins: flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together the sugar and lemon peel in a separate bowl. Add the eggs, oil, lemon juice and both essences. Mix them in. Add the dry ingredients and mix them in. Grate the unpeeled courgette, don't squeeze and don't pour away the liquid. Add the courgette to the dough and mix it in. Put the dough into some paper muffin moulds. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Now prepare the icing. Mix the milk with the caster sugar and lemon essence. Decorate the muffins with the lemon icing.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By pastrygirl
      I had a chance to try a couple of Valrhona's new "inspirations" flavors today, the passion fruit and the almond.  The almond was good but I'd probably add salt.  The passion fruit is intense and delicious, I bet you could cut it with a sweeter white chocolate and still get good flavor.  They also have strawberry.  These are cocoa-butter based so can be used for shell molding.  https://inter.valrhona.com/en/inspiration-valrhona-innovation
       
      I could definitely see using these.  Passion fruit is one of my favorite flavors, and I already indulge in the convenience of Perfect Puree so I don't think this would compromise my integrity   
       
      Just wanted to share.  Available soon, probably expensive
    • By Kasia
      BANOFFE - MY DAUGHTER'S BIRTHDAY CAKE
       
      This year, mischievous nature tried to upset my daughter's birthday plans. Spending your birthday in bed with a thermometer isn't an excellent idea ¬– even for an adult. For a teenager it is a drama comparable to cancelled holidays. My daughter told me that you are thirteen only once. And she was right. Literally and figuratively.

      I wanted to sugar the pill for her on this day and cheer her up for a bit, so I prepared a caramel cake with bananas – banoffee in the form of a small birthday cake. My sweet magic and the dinner from her favourite restaurant worked, and in the end her birthday was quite nice.

      Ingredients (17cm cake tin):
      150g of biscuits
      75g of butter
      200ml of 30% sweet cream
      250g of mascarpone cheese
      2 tablespoons of caster sugar
      2 bananas
      300g of fudge
      1 teaspoon of dark cocoa

      Break the biscuits into very small pieces or blend them. Melt the butter and mix it up with the biscuits until you have dough like wet sand. Put it into a cake tin and form the base. It is worth rolling it flat with a glass. Leave it in the fridge for one hour. Spread the biscuit layer with fudge and arrange the sliced bananas on top. Whisk the chilled sweet cream with the caster sugar. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix it in. Put the mixture onto the bananas and make it even. Sprinkle with the dark cocoa and decorate as you like. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours (best for the whole night).

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Kasia
      ON THE CHRISTMAS TABLE - CHRISTMAS EVE CRANBERRY KISSEL
       
      One of my friends from Ukraine told me about her traditional Christmas dishes. Except for stuffed cabbage with potatoes (which I have made already) I was surprised about cranberry kissel. I searched the Internet and I saw that in many Polish homes Christmas Eve supper ends with cranberry kissel. In my home we always drink compote with dried fruit, but maybe this year we will try a new dish on our Christmas menu.

      I wonder why cranberries are on the Christmas table. I didn't find any particular information about it (except the fact it is tradition). I think that a few years ago cranberries were treated as a natural cure which aids digestion, and this could be quite useful after a hefty Christmas meal!

      At my Ukrainian friends' home Christmas kissel is runny like a drink, but you can prepare it like a dessert with a more dense texture. I made the drink version, but you should choose which is better for you.

      Ingredients:
      500g of cranberries
      a piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves
      6-8 tablespoons of sugar
      2-3 tablespoons of potato flour

      Wash the cranberries and put them with the cinnamon and cloves in a pan. Pour in 500ml of water and boil until the fruit is soft. Remove the cinnamon and cloves and blend the rest. Add the sugar and mix it until it has dissolved. Sieve the cranberry mousse to make a smooth texture. Mix the potato flour with a bit of cold water. Boil the cranberry mousse and add the mixed potato flour, stirring constantly so it is not lumpy. Boil for a while. Pour the kissel into some glasses.

      Enjoy your meal!

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×