I'm thinking Spring...even though the thermometer reads barely above 40-degrees today, my daffodils confirm my belief. And, with St. Patrick's Day just a few weeks away, I thought I'd get started on baking some shortbread to give as gifts.
Shortbread is a soft crumb cookie that due to it's high fat content (butter) inhibits the long strands of gluten to form and create this texture. It is typically made from one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oat flour, which present day baking has substituted all-purpose flour for. I like to create a mixture and add in rice flour for some of the all-purpose to give this "biscuit" it's rightful texture, however, if you own a food processor or Vita Mix, grinding old-fashioned oats into flour will work too. The sugar should be superfine, which you can find in the baking aisle, but could also substitute confectioner's sugar if you can't.
The other nice quality about Shortbread is that it goes perfectly with a cup a tea--which I've been drinking a lot lately due to my cold--and did you know this is "National Hot Tea Month!"
Light & Lemony Shortbread
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
1/3 cup superfine sugar
2 T confectioners' sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. Lemon extract
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
Preheat oven 300F-degrees. Spray a 9" x 9" x 2" square pan with baking spray (or 2 ceramic shortbread pans).
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the lemon zest and extract. Beat again to combine.
Add the flours and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together.
Press dough into the prepared pan(s) and prick the surface with a skewer to ensure even baking. If you're baking in the square pan, lightly score the dough into squares.
Bake in preheated oven 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Let cool about 5 to 7 minutes and then invert onto a baking rack.
Optional Lemon Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. Light Karo syrup
additional hot water to create a glaze
In a small bowl, mix up everything, but the hot water. Add the hot water, one teaspoon at a time until the consistency of a thin glaze. Spread onto the top of the shortbread and sprinkle with yellow sparkling sugar, if desired.
Use a sharp knife to cut through the squares. Let the shortbread cool completely before serving.
Truly, there's nothing more comforting than a warm cup of tea with this shortbread when you're feeling lousy with a cold or just want to cuddle up on the sofa with a light comedy and a fire (I recommend "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep, Alex Baldwin, and Steve Martin!) after a long day. Enjoy!