|abbey ruins at Holyrood Palace|
When our family discovered fresh shortbread in a cafe at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh several years ago, we were all hooked. It was heavenly. And it was baked for mere tourists, not for her majesty. What is it like when the queen is in residence? I have read that Queen Elizabeth stays there only one week a year, early each summer. I would stay the whole summer just for the shortbread, but I suppose she has good cooks down in London, too.
When we returned home, I knew I had to make shortbread in my own kitchen. Store-bought shortbread is not remotely in the same league as fresh. I soon realized that I already had a very good shortbread recipe on my cookbook shelf in The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten from Your Grandmother by Jeff Smith. There are only four ingredients. I love the simplicity of this cookie. It is so easy to mix up, bake, and devour. We eat them warm, we eat them cool, we eat them with ice cream, we eat them plain. I just love this cookie!
1/2 pound butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
about 1/2 teaspoon of extra fine baker's sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a mixing bowl. Blend in the sugar with a spoon. Cut the butter into 1/2" slices or cubes and add to the flour mixture. Use a heavy-duty mixer to blend in the butter.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board and knead gently five or six times. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough on the baking sheet and form into a circle or rectangle a little less than 1/2" thick. I use a lightly floured rolling pin to get a smooth surface. Gently prick all over the surface of the dough with a fork. If desired, lightly sprinkle the baker's sugar over the top (just a very small amount).
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes (I always check after 25 minutes) until the edges turn light brown. Transfer on the parchment paper to a cooling rack. Cut into wedges or squares before it is completely cool.
|Fit for a queen!|