Friday, August 31, 2012


      Today, let's focus on shortbread. Yes, those hellishly delicious biscuits that crumble when you bite them then melt in your mouth. It's a dangerous combination; crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth. It makes shortbread a more-ish disaster for anyone trying to watch his/her waistline. What makes them hellish is that they are so high in fat since they are made with butter, butter, and more butter.
      For the uninitiated who are wondering what the difference between shortbread and shortcake is, here's what Wikipedia has to say: Shortbread is different from shortcake, which can be similar to shortbread, but which can be made using vegetable fat instead of butter and always uses a chemical leavening agent such as baking powder, which gives it a different texture.
      When my husband had to go to the UK for work several months ago, I asked him to buy some shortbread and gingersnaps for me. That sweet man bought back 3 packs of each. I scoffed a pack of the shortbread in 2 days and had to keep the rest in my cellar.
Just a supermarket house-brand, but these are good anyway

       Last night, I opened the last pack of shortbread. I ungracefully took two pieces out of the packet, put them on a piece of tissue to catch the crumbs and plopped my bum on the sofa to savour the buttery delight. Then I went back for another 2 pieces, enjoyed them, and felt guilty. Oh well.
This all reminded me of when I baked shortbread earlier in the year. They turned out alright, but I learned a lesson from that baking experience. That is why I am posting this recipe with my two-cents' worth, so that you can learn from my mistake.
     The mistake I made was to use cheap butter for the shortbread. I had only been in the Netherlands for a few months then and was just learning to familiarise myself with certain words. What I didn't realise was that the 'butter' I bought was made with a percentage of vegetable oil. So while my shortbread tasted nice on the first day that they were baked, they tasted a little stale the next day. There was no fault with the recipe, only with my ingredient. Some of my biscuits also turned out over baked because they were not all of the same thickness. But I shall share a picture of them anyway.

     So people, use real good-quality unsalted butter to make shortbread. Anything less than that and you're just wasting your time. Try to make your unbaked shortbread of even thickness and size, and watch them while they bake.
     In the recipe provided here, you will see that cornflour is used. Some people use cornflour or rice flour in shortbread to give a lighter and more crumbly texture. I can say that this is a good idea and it works. Give it a try. And remember, use good butter!

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