Most people love a good cookie now and then and you could arguably say that there are few cookies better than the shortbread recipe. Depending on the particular recipe that you use, you might use only three or four ingredients (lemon shortbread uses a few additional items). While you can use a hand mixer or even a stand mixer, you don’t have to. That’s right, you can mix the dough with a sturdy spoon and a decent sized mixing bowl.
It’s true, there are a few tricks to making the best shortbread cookies. Thankfully, it’s so simple that even someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience can make it. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be chomping at the bit to get into the kitchen and make your own shortbread cookies, something that will undoubtedly become a staple in your home.
Is There a Perfect Shortbread Recipe?
Most bakers will tell you that they have the perfect shortbread recipe, one that’s better than virtually everything else out there. That may be true, but the thing about recipes is that deciding which one is the best is a lot like deciding on the best piece of art in a museum. It’s all subjective. Typically, the best shortbread recipe is the one that works best for you. You want something that isn’t too complicated, but tastes delicious. You might want to consider a good lemon shortbread recipe, based on a traditional basic shortbread.
For example, most of your basic shortbread recipes contain only a few ingredients- butter, flour and brown sugar. To be more exact, you’ll need two cups of salted butter that’s been softened along with one tightly packed cup of brown sugar and between four to four and a half cups of flour. That’s all there is to it as far as the ingredients are concerned. By now, you’re probably wondering why you were so stressed about making this recipe. After all, there are a lot of other cookie recipes that have an item list that seems to go on and on. The very idea that you could bake something like this with only three ingredients is almost hard to believe, until you do it a few times.
The catch is that you have to treat the dough right. The perfect shortbread recipe is one in which you allow the dough to dry out for a bit in your refrigerator. You don’t want it to be so dry that it’s hard as a rock when you touch it, but you do want to give it an opportunity for some of the water to evaporate. A couple of hours in the refrigerator will generally do the trick. In addition, it’s imperative that you use only the highest quality ingredients.
In a recipe that only requires three ingredients, quality makes the difference more than ever. If you use something that is subpar, it’s going to have an adverse impact on the overall taste of the cookie. This is true with most baking, but it’s even more so in this particular case. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you go ahead and spend the extra money to get the very best ingredients you can find.
Remember, you only need a few ingredients. Here they are, courtesy of this site. You probably have most of this stuff in your kitchen.
- Flour (1 ¼ cups)
- Butter (¾ cup)
- Confectioners Sugar (½ cup)
- Cornstarch (½ cup)
- Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (1 ½ tablespoons)
- Lemon Zest (1 tablespoon)
- Here are the ingredients for the lemon glaze that goes on top:
- Fresh Lemon Juice (2 tablespoons)
- Lemon Zest (1 tablespoon)
- Confectioners Sugar (½ cup)
Make the Cookies:
Using a hand mixer (or a sturdy wooden spoon), cream the confectioners sugar, cornstarch and butter together. Slowly add in the flour, mixing until it’s just barely combined. Last but not least, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Combine and form the cookies on a cookie sheet. Pierce the unbaked cookies with a fork and pop them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Now you’re ready to make the glaze. Mix the confectioners sugar with the lemon juice and lemon zest. It’s best to use a hand mixer. After the cookies have finished chilling, bake them at 350 degrees until they turn golden brown at the edges (usually about 10-12 minutes). Remove the cookies from the oven, allow them to cool slightly and top with the glaze. Enjoy!
Can You Give a Shortbread Recipe Your Own Special Twist?
A lot of bakers prefer to give a recipe their own special twist. Doing so provides the individual an opportunity to make the recipe they use completely unique. In a way, bakers do this to put a stamp on their finished product. No other recipe tastes quite like it. If you’re wondering whether or not that’s something you can do with shortbread, the good news is that you most definitely can. Since this is such a straightforward recipe, there aren’t a lot of places where you can change things up but there are a few subtle things that you can do that make a huge difference in the way your cookie will taste. For starters, you can use a dash of sea salt to kick the flavor up a notch or two.
This actually works very well because it not only increases the flavor of the cookie, but it also enhances each individual flavor because the salt offsets the sweetness of the brown sugar. You might go back and read that part about softening the butter one more time. There are some individuals that absolutely swear that this is the best way to make shortbread but others aren’t so sure. Some are adamant that you should use butter that is extremely cold, straight out of the freezer in fact. Of course, that makes it harder to work with when you’re trying to mix the dough but if you like the taste of the finished product better, then it’s worth it. You will have to experiment with both methods in order to determine which one works best for you.
There is also one more important thing that needs to be said about the butter. You should be using high-quality ingredients across the board, but there probably is no ingredient more important than the butter. The last thing you want to do is buy some bargain stick butter that you get at the supermarket for less than a dollar. As a matter of fact, you would be doing yourself a favor to use butter that is imported from Europe. Why? The butter that’s made there is higher in fat content, which increases and enhances the flavor of the cookie. In addition, the butter that comes from Europe tends to be more flavorful in and of itself, dramatically enhancing the taste of the cookie.
It’s Not All About the Ingredients
Obviously, an overwhelming amount of making shortbread cookies is about choosing the right ingredients. However, there are a few other things that you need to be aware of. For example, it’s important that you shape the cookies in small rectangles on a cookie sheet and then pierce them with a fork, from top to bottom. This not only gives him a more traditional appearance, but also impacts the way that they bake in the oven. Once you have all of the cookies on the cookie sheet, put the entire pan in the refrigerator and let it sit. It can sit for as little as 30 minutes or you can leave it in there overnight.
It’s truly about finding the time friend that works best for you, as every baker seems to have their own idea of how long the dough needs to be in the refrigerator at this stage. After that, remove the dough and then put it directly in the oven at 325 degrees. Typically, you’ll want to leave it there for about 20 minutes, but every oven bakes differently. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the cookies and then take them out when the edges are a nice golden brown. From there, you’ll have a much better idea how long you need to let the next batch bake in order to get the same result.
The Thing About Using Cornstarch
It’s possible that you might have heard some individuals talk about baking shortbread cookies with cornstarch. Is that something that you should be doing or should you run away from a recipe that calls for cornstarch as fast as you can? Before you make a decision, let’s examine the purpose of using cornstarch in a shortbread cookie recipe. It’s designed to make the cookie crumble easily, more like a traditional dessert than a cookie. Clearly, the use of cornstarch will change the texture of the cookie. The odd thing is that it doesn’t have a tendency to change the flavor much at all, and some individuals will argue that it doesn’t change the taste of the cookie in any capacity.
Again, it all comes down to a matter of personal preference. If you’re accustomed to baking with cornstarch and you just happen to have a shortbread cookie recipe that calls for it, then you should go ahead and follow the recipe, using the amount of cornstarch that is called for. On the other hand, if you already have a shortbread cookie recipe that you absolutely love and it doesn’t involve the use of cornstarch, you might ask yourself why you feel the need to fix something that isn’t broken. If you’re that curious about whether or not it improves the flavor and/or texture of the cookie, then find a solid recipe that’s been well-reviewed which uses cornstarch and give it a go.
If you like it better than the one you’ve been using, then you have a new favorite. Furthermore, if it’s not as good, then you can simply consider it an experiment that increases your level of knowledge in the kitchen and continue using the recipe that you’ve loved all along. You can use cornstarch with your lemon shortbread recipe, but you can just as easily choose a basic recipe and add additional ingredients for lemon shortbread (confectioners sugar, lemon juice and some lemon zest). It all depends on the texture you want your cookies to have.
The Perfect Lemon Shortbread Cookie
Now that you know how easy it is to make shortbread cookies, how do you kick that up a notch and make lemon shortbread? Fortunately, there is not a lot about it that makes it more complicated. In fact, only add half a cup of confectioner’s sugar to the recipe, along with one and a half tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a tablespoon of lemon zest.
The truly great thing about this recipe is that you can then leave it in the fridge. You can do this until you’re ready to bake it. Simply slice the cookies as you’re ready to go. If you want, you can also make a glaze for the top. This consists of two tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice, one tablespoon of lemon zest, and half a cup of confectioners sugar. It’s not only easy, but also delicious. The best part is that even among a bunch of individuals that love to bake shortbread cookies, this is likely to be a one-of-a-kind recipe that stands out in all the best ways possible.
As you can see, making shortbread cookies is actually pretty easy. You may go with a basic recipe or you want lemon shortbread with a fresh squeezed lemon glaze on top. This is a recipe that anyone can make. It takes about an hour in the kitchen to get everything ready. And, when you bake the cookies, you can apply the glaze almost as they come out of the oven. But, do give them just a few minutes to cool. After you taste this recipe for the lemon shortbread cookies, you’ll probably come back to it again. The truth is, it’s likely to become a favorite among anyone that has the opportunity to enjoy them.
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