Recently one of the long-time owners of the ballroom dance studio that I train at passed away after a lengthy illness. Since he was Scottish, I decided to make some Scottish Shortbread as a small tribute to him. This recipe is easy to make but has a long baking time (over an hour). The shortbread has an airy and crumbly texture, yet it’s solid enough to support various toppings. This recipe is great for customizing to your taste. I made a second batch where I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture. I also experimented with toppings and whipped up a quick orange glaze by adding a couple of tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice to some confectioners (powdered) sugar until the glaze reached a pourable consistency. And finally, I capped off the Scottish Shortbread making day by making an orange-lemon curd.
(Adapted from Fine Cooking)
Makes 16 squares
6 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Basic – 2 Tbs. superfine sugar to be sprinkled on top after baking OR
Orange glaze- a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice and a cup of confectioners sugar OR
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 300°F.
- Line an 8×8-inch pan with heavy aluminum foil, letting the foil extend over two sides of the pan.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon (if using) into a large bowl.
- Add 1/2 cup of the sugar to the flour mixture, and, with an electric mixer on low speed, mix to just blend the ingredients.
- Add the butter pieces and vanilla and mix until large (1/4- to 1/2-inch) crumbs form, about 2 minutes.
- Gently press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Don’t pack the dough into the pan.
- Bake until the top of the shortbread just begins to turn golden, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven.
Topping and Finishing
For Basic Sugar Topping
- After removing the shortbread from the oven, immediately sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.
- Cut the shortbread into 16 squares (while it is still in the pan), being sure to cut through to the bottom. Don’t wait until the shortbread is totally cool before cutting as the shortbread will crumble if you try to cut it when it’s too cool. Cool completely before lifting the foil and shortbread from the pan.
For Orange Glaze
- Cut the shortbread into 16 squares (while it is still in the pan), being sure to cut through to the bottom. Don’t wait until the shortbread is totally cool before cutting as the shortbread will crumble if you try to cut it when it’s too cool.
- While the shortbread is cooling, stir a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice into one cup of confectioners sugar until the mixture reaches a pourable consistency. Wait until the bars have totally cooled before drizzling the glaze on top.