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Take 3 ingredients, mix them together, bake and you have the BEST shortbread you can find. After measuring out the ingredients, it takes THREE minutes to whip this together by hand; whether you use a shortbread pan or make it free-form, it still turns out buttery, flaky and delicious! I've been making it this way, unchanged, for over 40 years from my Mum's recipe. I have no idea who gave it to her or where it's from; she'd been making it even before I was born in 1952. See note in Directions for additional flavours.
- Note: Classic shortbread is wonderful all by itself with it's 3 ingredients. But, at times, I've used any of the following: 1 teaspoons vanilla/1 teaspoons almond extract/1-2 teaspoons of crushed lavender blossoms/1-2 teaspoons of dried cinnamon basil. You can also add small amounts of lemon or orange zest to give it another flavour.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a medium-sized bowl, with a large wooden spoon, cream butter until it is light, about 1 minute.
- Add the powdered sugar and blend together well, about 1/2 a minute.
- Stir in the flour by 1/3rds, until well combined, about 1 minute total.
- Dump contents onto work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Initially, it will feel almost TOO buttery, but after 1/2 a minute or so, it will begin to feel very smooth and glisten-y and hold together beautifully.
- If using a shortbread pan, coat pan with Pam or Wilton's Cake Release. Pre-flatten the dough ball manually, until it reaches a size you can't flatten by hand. Press this dough circle into the shortbread pan, gently flattening it out until it reaches the edges.
- Smooth the edges cracks with your fingers and with a fork, prick the shortbread all over the surface.
- If doing this free-form, pre-flatten the dough ball manually, until it reaches a size you can't flatten by hand. Place dough disk on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and press it out to become a 7" circle. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork and smooth cracked edges out with your fingers.
- Bake shortbread in either case for 30-35 minutes until the edges become a light tan and you can "smell" the shortbread aroma. If you can't smell it, it isn't done (unless you have a cold! LOL).
- Remove shortbread pan from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a dull butter knife, place cutting board over the top and flip it over. If shortbread does NOT release, tilt it slightly and tap the edge on the wooden board. Allow to cool 5 minutes and then, using a very sharp knife, cut into the slices that the pan suggests, from 6-8 slices.
- If baking free-form, remove cookie sheet from oven and slide the parchment-paper with shortbread attached onto a heat-proof counter. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then cut into slices with a very sharp knife. 6-8 slices are best.