How to make Simple and Tasty, All-Butter Shortbread
I started the Windsor & Maidenhead Boat Company because I wanted to bring my love of food and the river together. It always makes me happy when I am on board, and someone comes back to the buffet for some more saying, “I really shouldn’t, but it’s so tasty!” Well, this shortbread is one that gets them every time. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make. I also find that using the basic shortbread; can lead to even more tasty things, such as millionaire shortbread and raspberry and chantilly shortbread tart. I like to crumble up the shortbread and use it as a topping on ice cream or as part of a plate design for a dessert.
A Short-Shortbread History
Shortbread was invented by the Scots and is called shortbread because of its crumbly texture. Made from around the 12th century, it was only until the 16th century when Mary, Queen of Scots, had the recipe refind to the shortbread we know and love today.
Mrs McLintock is credited with the first printed recipe in 1736.
Christmas, Hogmanay, weddings and other special occasions would usually be the only time shortbread was served as it uses expensive ingredients, so it was viewed as a luxury.
A fun how-to video
Here is a video of when my son and I made a batch.
The Shortbread Recipe
Prep time – 30 mins + 30 mins chilling / Cooking time – 10 to 30 minutes – shape depending / Yield – 20 – shape depending
125g Butter – soft
55g Caster sugar, plus extra to finish
180g Plain flour
Tip – This is an all-butter shortbread, meaning that the flavour will be coming from the butter you choose. Not all butter is made equal but more expensive does not always make it better. It is worth trying different kinds of butter to see the impact.
Tip – I like to keep my caster and granulated sugars in a jar with some Vanilla pods, which give the sugar a beautifully subtle vanilla flavour. The pods are expensive as they are challenging to grow and have to be hand-pollinated. They are the second most expensive spice after saffron. However, you can refill the jar numerous times, and the pods will keep giving off their flavour. It is definitely worth the investment.
It is essential to remember two things when cooking.
The first is HOT – Hands, Oven, Tray. Wash your hands, set your oven temp (if the recipe is quick) and prepare your tray.
The second is to clean as you go and leave the kitchen as you find it. It is not always that easy. However, it will make a huge difference and is part of the job. You are not done till the kitchen is clean!
HOT exception! The shortbread will need 30 minutes to rest in the fridge, so delay setting your oven, leaving enough time to preheat before you are ready to put the shortbread in the oven. My oven takes about 20 minutes to heat, so if I am cutting the shortbread into shaps, I will turn the oven on 10 minutes before taking the shortbread out of the fridge. It is crucial not to waste energy.
- Cream the butter and sugar together – This should be smooth.
- Add the flour and stir to a paste – you can use your clean hands for this.
- Roll out the shortbread to 1/2cm thick between two sheets of greaseproof paper (This stops you from adding extra flour) and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Good time to wash up
- Preheat your oven to 190C
- Take the shortbread from the fridge, and after 2-3 minutes, cut out your shapes and arrange on lined baking sheets – You can use the greaseproof that you used to roll it out.
- Sprinkle with sugar to finish (if you want to ice or dip your shortbread, skip this step) and then bake until pale golden brown. Depending on your shapes, this can take anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and once cold, store in an airtight container. They can keep well for 2-3 days; however, they are usually eaten way before then!
Tip – the more you re-roll the paste, the tougher the shortbread will become. However, cook any of your offcuts as you can add this to a crumble topping or ice cream. Please do not waste it!
Tip – if you have thick parts to your shapes, then cover with foil to stop them burning whist the rest is cooking. I find this with my reindeer cutter for the antlers.
Once you have tried the basic recipe, you can start to add things and experiment.
- Adding 100g of Chocolate chips with the flour
- Adding Orange zest with the butter and sugar
- Replace 40g of the flour with 50g of ground rice flour for a different texter
- Add 1tbs cocoa powder to make chocolate shortbread, be careful when cooking as its challenging to see the colour change.
- Add 100g of Rasions or Saultarners with the flour.
- Skip, sprinkling then with sugar and dip in chocolate instead. You could decoratively ice the tops too.
If you add something with the flour, you can slit your batch and make several different variations at once.
Raw shortbread will keep well in the freezer for up to three months, shaped or in logs. Allow thawing enough to cut the logs into disks and bake for an extra minute or two.
I hope you enjoyed this simple shortbread recipe.
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