I love baking cookies. Every Christmas I bake an assortment of cookies for family and friends, a tradition I started years ago before we had kids. Last year I made bags of granola instead and I realized just how much less stress I had by not baking 10 different kinds of cookies! But I’ll probably go back to baking cookies, afterall its a labor of love and I am a glutton for punishment. There are the tried and true, the cookies I bake year after year; the few that show up from time to time and then one or two new cookies each holiday just to keep it fresh.
The cornerstone of my Holiday box of cookies is the traditional Scottish Shortbread. I found the recipe in an issue of Cuisine magazine, titled My Father’s Shortbread. A true labor of love, the author’s father made his shortbread strictly by hand. I cheat a little and use a mixer to combine the flour into the butter but I think they are still really really good.
Adapted from My Father’s Shortbread by Sydney Eddelson Cuisine Magazine Dec 1983
- 1 pound cold lightly salted butter
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Work butter until soft but not melting. Easiest thing to do is pound the butter with a rolling pin Fold butter in half and smoosh it with pin (yes smoosh) until malleable but not warm. Place butter in bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar and salt cream until combined, do not beat until fluffy as this will incorporate too much air into butter. Add flour to butter mixture and mix on low until particles cling together. Remove from bowl and knead gently until smooth and soft. Pat or roll into a rectangle about 3/8″ thick. Mark off pieces 1″ x 2-1/2″, prick with fork and chill for 1 hour. Cut apart and place on cold baking sheet 1/2″ apart. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, place shortbread in oven and immediately turn temperature down to 275 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate pan and leave for additional 10-15 minutes. Cookies are done when bottoms are golden brown and sand color on top. You can use cookie cutters if you wish. Shortbread retain their shape well.