Friday, February 5, 2010

Shortbread and the Nanny


There are many recipes out there for shortbread and what goes better with a cup of tea?

But don't be mislead. Any shortbread recipe that says cream the butter with the sugar, then add the flour is rubbish. I know because I've tried a few. Then I went back to a cookbook which I bought in the seventies.

When I first came to the States I was a Nanny to four children ranging from 10 to 16, driving was a must. Pick them up here drop them off there. Boxing lessons, tap dancing lessons, horse riding lessons, take them to the fair, take them to the movies, run them to the mall. No it was not bad, they were a very nice easy going family.

One day Mr. N went out and bought everyone skies. None of the family or I had ever skied in our lives. We hit the slopes of Vermont almost every weekend and within one winter, I was pretty good. Especially for a girl who found it impossible to learn to ice skate.

I digress. I also had to cook for the family. After looking for a coffee cake recipe; which to me was a cake with coffee in, but in the States is a cake you eat with your coffee, I realized that I needed a good cook book and set out to buy one. This is what I came back with, The Creative Cooking Course, edited by Charlotte Turgeon.

This is a great book, lots of pictures and where I found my best shortbread recipe. The secret, you must rub the butter into the flour, as if you're making pastry, then add the sugar and knead and knead until it is warm and pliable dough.

Basic Scotch Shortbread

2 cups sifted self-raising flour
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Dice the butter and add to the flour. Blend with fingers, until all the butter is absorbed in the flour. Add the sugar gradually, mixing with a wooden spoon until well blended. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. The dough will be very soft. Divide the dough in half. Press each half into a 9" x 12" rectangle on a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" ungreased cookie sheet with sides. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 22 minutes, or until just set but not browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then loosen around the edges carefully. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan and invert carefully. Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired. Cut into squares to serve. This makes about 30 squares.

I like to put my shortbread into two round pans 9" diameter. Cut into wedges, while still warm.


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