Shortbread that is well prepared, can be a divine tea time treat. Buttery, light, perfectly rich and not sickeningly sweet. Get what I’m saying?
The name refers in big part to the texture of the baked piece of happiness. It’s supposed to have a very fine crumb, which makes it very crumbly. This is referred to as being short in texture. When preparing shortbread, it’s important to work lightly and quickly, as you don’t want to develop the gluten in the flour. If the gluten is over worked, the shortbread will be tough and also shrink substantially during baking. It should be baked under a watchful eye, as you don’t want it to brown too much. The lighter the better!
I didn’t do it, but you’d usually prick the shortbread with a fork when it comes out of the oven – it’s to look pretty. Shortbread is either cut into wedges or fingers. If you can make a really good shortbread, it makes good gifts over the festive season or just for new neighbours to welcome them to the neighbourhood.
I sprinkled the baked shortbread with vanilla sugar which lifts the buttery flavour, but plain sugar or even icing sugar is also used by some bakers.