Delicate and rich, shortbread is a light cookie that's the perfect ending to a heavy meal. Make extra batches to give as gifts or send home with friends and family.
Shortbread is traditionally baked in ceramic molds or in a round tin and cut into petticoat tails or wedges, but use whatever-shaped tray you have on hand for these crisp, yet wonderfully crumbly, cookies. Makes 12 cookies.
8 oz. butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine semolina
a little extra sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a baking tray. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mix looks pale. Sift and mix in the flour and semolina, a little at a time.
2. Draw the mixture together with your fingertips to form the dough and tip it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead the dough to a smooth, uniform consistency.
Cooking Tip: Kneading and Freezing
Work quickly and lightly as you knead the shortbread dough — the butter in the mix will soften and turn greasy if you overwork the dough, so the less you handle it, the better it will taste when baked. The cooked cookies can be frozen for up to one month.
3. Put the dough into the prepared tray, press it down evenly, and prick it all over with a fork. Sprinkle sugar over the top and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes until firm.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until pale brown in color. Leave in the tray for five minutes, then slice into rectangles or triangles if you have used round trays. To make festive shortbread shapes, roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8- to 1/4-inch, cut the shapes with cookie cutters and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Excerpted from A Greener Christmas
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2008