The shortbread saga continues! Trial 3’s recipe is based around a new kitchen tool I just got: a pastry cutter.
I have been looking for a pastry cutter for years (literally) and finally found one randomly while roaming through a new shop. Instantly, my culinary possibilities seamed endless! It has been the bane of my existence for the past few years. When making any sort of pastry I would have to use my hands to combine the butter and flours which meant painstakingly trying to keep the butter cold while being handled by my warm hands. I would repeatedly put the pastry into the freezer to re-cool the butter as I was working with it and run my hands under cold water in an attempt to cool them down to prevent the butter melting prematurely. You see, the key to a beautifully flaky pastry is keeping the butter cold so it will melt a little further into the baking process. Since I was very excited about my new purchase, I decided trial 3’s recipe had to be based around cutting the butter into the pastry. I also decided to take a tip from trial 2 and try twice baking again. Baking the shortbread twice gives you a bit more control over the colour of the finished fingers which like. Plus, I like being able to bake the shortbread in a loaf tin so that you get nice fingers. The problem with cooking the shortbread through while in a loaf tin is that the ends will tend to be too brown while the centre will be slightly undercooked. Baking twice solves all that! I am also hoping that by cutting the butter into the pastry will mean it melts slightly later during baking making the shortbread slightly more moist then trial 2.
The result: PERFECTION!!!! YAHHHHHHH!!!!! I am really pleased with this recipe. It is easy to make and incredibly basic. As a favour, it just sweet enough but not too sweet making the lovely buttery favour more prominent. Plus, it’s crumbly, but not too crumbly in that it has good structural integrity. Next is the fun part: decorations!
Makes ~14 shortbread fingers
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 8 tbsp castor sugar (1 tbsp for dusting before baking) If you don’t have castor sugar, use 5 tbsp regular white sugar and 3 tbsp icing sugar mixed together
- 2 cups flour
- pinch salt
- Cream the butter and 7 tbsp of sugar together in a medium sized bowl.
- Add the flour and pinch of salt.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the majority of the flour has been incorporated but you still have little bits of butter. You can do this with your fingers, but it is SOO much easier, faster, and cleaner with a pastry cutter. Trust me, I just got a pastry cutter yesterday and I already think it’s revolutionizing my life.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper that is the width of your loaf tin but an inch or two longer. The excess parchment paper will give you something to hold onto to lift the shortbread out of the tin.
- Transfer the dough into the parchment lined loaf tin. The dough will still be crumbly which is a good thing
- Use a piece of plastic wrap to push the dough down into the loaf tin getting rid of all air bubbles and cracks.
- Wrap the tin up in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours and for up to 2 days. I left mine overnight.
- Ten minutes or so before you are planning to bake your shortbread, preheat you oven to 350F (180C).
- Take the shortbread out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap.
- Bake the shortbread for 20-25 mins until the edges are starting to brown.
- Take the loaf tin out of the oven and let cool for about 10 mins.
- Once the shortbread has cooled a bit, use the parchment paper to lift the shortbread out of the tin and set it on a cutting board.
- Let the shortbread cool for at least another 10 mins.
- Slice the shortbread into 1cm wide strips. You’ll notice how it’s still doughy in the middle, that’s okay. it’s easier to slice a crumbly shortbread when it hasn’t fully cooked and then finish it off in slices.
- Place the shortbread fingers onto a baking tray.
- Bake for another 10 mins or until the edges are browning slightly and the shortbread is no longer wet looking.
- Allow to cool for another 10 mins.
- Flip the fingers over and dust with the remaining tbsp of castor sugar.
- Put the shortbread back into the over for another 5 mins to finish off the other side.
- Let cool before decorating.