Shortbreads

Favorite Holiday Treats: Shortbread

by Sarah House in Recipes

Growing-up, the winter holidays were a time for copious amounts of baking.  These treats were shared with our friends and neighbors (with none too few going right into our little bellies).  My mother taught my sister and me to make several traditional Finnish Christmas pastries along with her favorite shortbread recipe.  She’d cut the shortbread into bars (“fingers” to the Scots, who are the originators of and famous for their shortbreads), package the creamy white center cuts for gifts and let the family indulge in the browned and caramelized edges – my personal favorite.

There are numerous variations on shortbread but none stray too far from the classic mix of butter, sugar, flour and salt.  Creaming the large amount of butter and sugar then adding the flours makes for a tender and full flavored cookie.  Since butter plays a stand-out role in these recipes, treat yourself to using one of high quality.

I’ve been sworn to secrecy of my family recipes but I’m more than happy to provide these new recipes using some of our whole-grain flours.  I’ve also included a good stand-by traditional version, this one adapted courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America.

Gluten Free? No problem, try our Gluten Free Shortbread Cookie Mix or this wonderful recipe from Elizabeth Barbone at Serious Eats.

Shortbreads

(L to R) Brown Sugar Spelt Shortbread, Traditional Shortbread (with unbleached pastry), Molasses Rye Shortbread

Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from The Culinary Institute of America

Yield approximately 20 servings

  • 1 ¾ cup Unbleached White Pastry Flour (210g)
  • ¼ cup White Rice Flour (40g)
  • ¾ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Butter, soft (227g)
  • ½ cup granulated Sugar (113g)
  • Granulated sugar or turbinado sugar, as desired
  1. Sift together flours and salt.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until just incorporated.  Do not overmix!
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.
  4. Roll the dough to ½-inch thick (if the dough is too soft to roll, shape into a 4×10-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill until firm).  Cut into bars, circles or desired shape and dock in the center with a fork.  Wrap and chill until hard, 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  For light coloring, do not separate bar cookies.  Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and store, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Whole Wheat Shortbread Cookies

Yield approximately 20 servings

  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (240g)
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Butter, soft (227g)
  • ½ cup granulated Sugar (113g)
  • Granulated sugar or turbinado sugar, as desired
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until just incorporated.  Do not overmix!
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.
  4. Roll the dough to ½-inch thick (if the dough is too soft to roll, shape into a 4×10-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill until firm).  Cut into bars, circles or desired shape and dock in the center with a fork.  Wrap and chill until hard, 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  For light coloring, do not separate bar cookies.  Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and store, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Brown Sugar Spelt Shortbread Cookies

Yield approximately 20 servings

  • 1 ½ cups Spelt Flour (180g)
  • ½ cup Unbleached White Pastry Flour (68g)
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Butter, soft (227g)
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar (113g)
  • Granulated sugar or turbinado sugar, as desired
  1. Sift together flours, salt and baking powder.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until just incorporated.  Do not overmix!
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.
  4. Roll the dough to ½-inch thick (if the dough is too soft to roll, shape into a 4×10-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill until firm).  Cut into bars, circles or desired shape and dock in the center with a fork.  Wrap and chill until hard, 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  For light coloring, do not separate bar cookies.  Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and store, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Rye Molasses Shortbread Cookies

Yield approximately 20 servings

  • 2 cups Light Rye Flour (208g)
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Butter, soft (227g)
  • ¼ cup granulated Sugar (57g)
  • 3 Tbsp Molasses (64g)
  • Granulated sugar or turbinado sugar, as desired
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and molasses until just incorporated.  Do not overmix!
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.
  4. Roll the dough to ½-inch thick (if the dough is too soft to roll, shape into a 4×10-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill until firm).  Cut into bars, circles or desired shape and dock in the center with a fork.  Wrap and chill until hard, 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  For light coloring, do not separate bar cookies.  Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and store, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 week.
About The Author
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5 Responses to “Favorite Holiday Treats: Shortbread”

  1. We love shortbread too, but what to do when you have celiac disease? We’re excited to make your gluten free shortbread cookie mix, but have run into a wee problem. The ingredients include 2 Tbsp of water, but the water is not listed anywhere in the instructions. What’s the water for? Thanks! Merry Christmas!

  2. I answered my own question. The water was definitely necessary. I added it towards the end of the mixing. It might be worth updating the instructions to include this step. Very delicious!! Thanks so much for making gluten-free baking easy, once again!

  3. the spelt cookies are NOT gluten free! they have unbleached WHITE flour in them. do you have a gluten-free version somewhere?

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