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Classic Shortbread 101

Long ago, a Scottish baker turned elemental ingredients into shortbread. For the modern cook, the master recipe is open to endless variations.

  • Yield: Makes 8 wedges

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 2007

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third. Sift flour and salt into a bowl; set aside. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. Gradually add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  2. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.

  3. Butter a 10-inch round springform or cake pan. Using plastic wrap, press dough evenly into pan. With plastic on dough, refrigerate 20 minutes.

  4. Cut dough into 8 wedges with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer, prick all over at 1/4-inch intervals.

  5. Bake until golden brown and firm in center, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Cook's Notes

For shortbread that bakes evenly and doesn't puff up in spots, follow these steps.
1. Turn out the dough into a pan, and cover with plastic wrap (so it doesn't stick to your hands); press into a uniform thickness. Refrigerate.
2. Using a paring knife, cut the dough into wedges. Using a wooden skewer (not a fork -- its tines will pull at the dough), prick the entire surface of the dough in a symmetrical pattern.

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