The start of this shortbread journey began with a failure. I had an old recipe for a shortbread that I found in my recipe book. I couldn’t recall the last time I had made the recipe so I thought I would test it out. The recipe had a bad combination of ingredients, the dough was too wet, the cookies spread in the oven and it was a disaster zone. Determined to figure out how to fix this recipe, I started again and modified some ingredients and steps. I also decided to list down my top tips for the shortbread to hold it’s shape (based on my method for other cookies). These tips are:
- It’s all about the flour for flat shortbread! Use plain flour without a rising agent (i.e. baking powder), and avoid self raising flours. It is also important to roll the dough nice and flat (1-2 cm) to avoid spreading in the oven.
- Baking paper is your greatest ally. When the recipe calls for the dough to be kneaded and rolled out, do so by placing the dough between two sheets of baking paper. This avoids the dough sticking to the rolling pin and your hands. Living in a hot climate in Central Queensland, I find this helps when baking, kneading and rolling any dough.
- Don’t hesitate to refrigerate! Your cookies should always spend 10 minutes or so in the fridge on the baking trays BEFORE they go into the oven. I use this trick with all of my cookies. To make the dough easy to cut and manoeuvre while cooking on a hot summer’s day, I also find it essential to refrigerate the dough after rolling and prior to cutting. (See Step 5 below).
- Oven temperature:time ratio. Have a go at adjusting the oven temperature: time ratio. These cookies worked better at a higher temperature for less time.
Do you have any tips for avoiding the spreading of cooking? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!
250g unsalted cooking butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line 2 baking trays.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla essence and briefly beat with the mixer to combine.
- Fold in the salt and plain flour, mixing until combined. The mixture will start to come together into a ball of dough.
- Place the dough onto a sheet of baking paper. Place another sheet of baking paper on top. Knead the dough briefly (30 seconds) to help to combine and roll out to a 1-2 cm thickness using a rolling pin.
- Once rolled out, place the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow to chill.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, and using cookie cutters, cut dough and place cookies onto a lined baking tray.
- Place the cookies into the fridge for 10 minutes prior to going in the oven. This will help to avoid the cookie melting and spreading while cooking in the oven.
- Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the shortbread has started to brown on the bottom/edges. Allow the shortbread to cool until firm.
- You could opt to ice the cookies. I used a great icing recipe from thegeniuskitchen.com (http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/shortbread-sugar-cookies-with-icing-370891) using icing sugar, milk, vanilla and food colouring.
Did the tips above to avoid cookies from spreading in the oven help you? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know about it in the comments.
Happy baking L x