Buttery shortbread is not only a favorite holiday treat but it makes a great gift. Our cookie platter would be lonely without it.

My husband hails from Scotland, where shortbread is a BIG DEAL. Coincidentally, it is also the birthplace of shortbread, where it has been made, in one guise or another, for centuries. Wrap your head around that…a centuries-old cookie. Of course, they would never describe it as a “cookie” since it is a biscuit, but it is not a bread. Confused?

Shortbread is a favorite at holiday-time (or other special occasions like weddings), as it was historically an expensive luxury given that two of the main ingredients were butter and sugar. And while nowadays it is eaten year-round, and often given as a Scottish souvenir, it’s still special in our book.

Shortbread can be as simple as the key ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter, or it can be embellished with flavorings like vanilla bean, lemon or orange zest, dried lavender, ginger, or even chocolate. I like the addition of a bit of salt to offset the sweetness, like I do with pretty much any dessert or sweet. And a little cornstarch keeps the texture from becoming overly crumbly.

Traditionally, shortbread is baked in one of three ways: baked in a square pan and cut into rectangles (or “fingers”), baked in a round and cut into wedges, or cut into individual rounds. This recipe was tested in a square pan and cut into rectangles, but it could also be baked in a round cake pan and cut into wedges (also called “petticoat tails”).

Here, I’ve added lemon zest and a splash of juice to give this version of shortbread a little kick. Feel free to leave those out and experiment with any of the additions I’ve listed above.

Lemony Shortbread.
Lemony Shortbread. (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe: Lemony Shortbread

Makes about 2 dozen shortbread

    Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 14 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
Cut cold unsalted butter into pieces.
Cut cold unsalted butter into pieces. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square cake pan, then line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon zest and pulse until mixed. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture, add the lemon juice and pulse just until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a food processor, combine the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon zest and pulse until mixed.
    In a food processor, combine the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon zest and pulse until mixed. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Scatter the butter over the flour mixture, add the lemon juice.
    Scatter the butter over the flour mixture, add the lemon juice. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Pulse just until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
    Pulse just until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  4. Press the dough into the prepared cake pan. If you like, use the bottom of a glass to smooth the surface evenly. Sprinkle the dough with 1 tbsp sugar. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Bake until the shortbread begins to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  5. Press the dough into the prepared cake pan. Then sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar.
    Press the dough into the prepared cake pan. Then sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Pierce the dough all over with a fork.
    Pierce the dough all over with a fork. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Bake until the shortbread begins to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.
    Bake until the shortbread begins to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 24 bars. Let cool completely, then lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang. Serve.
  7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 24 bars.
    Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 24 bars. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Let cool completely, then lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang.
    Let cool completely, then lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Serve the Lemony Shortbread.
    Serve the Lemony Shortbread. (Wendy Goodfriend)
Christmas Cookies: Lemony Shortbread 10 December,2017Kim Laidlaw

Author

Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at http://www.kimlaidlaw.com.

Author

Wendy Goodfriend

I am the Senior Interactive Producer for KQED Food. I have designed and produced food-related websites and blogs for KQED including Bay Area Bites; Check, Please! Bay Area;  Taste This; Jacques Pepin’s websites; Weir Cooking in the City and KQED Food. When I am not creating and managing food websites I am taking photos and video of Bay Area Life and designing online navigation systems. My professional education and training includes: clinical psychology, photography, commercial cooking, web design, information architecture and UX. You can find me engaged in social media on Twitter @bayareabites and on Facebook at Bay Area Bites. I can also be found photoblogging at look2remember.

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