Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The rich, buttery crumble in your mouth is the hallmark of a good shortbread. Though I'm a firm believer in the old adage that "good things come to those who wait," in the case of this shortbread it's a very good thing and it can be dispatched with very little waiting.
Makes 16 wedges (adapted from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
14 tbs (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/8 inch slices)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Pulse the oats in a spice grinder until reduced to a fine powder. Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix the oat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until a dough just forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
Pat the dough into a 9 inch circle on a parchment lined baking sheet. Smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon. Score the shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through the dough. Use a skewer or fork to poke 8-10 holes into each wedge.
Bake the shortbread for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the edges turn pale golden. Turn off the oven and use the handle of a wooden spoon to leave a 1 inch gap at the top. Allow the shortbread to dry in the turned-off oven until pale golden in the center, about 1 hour.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool the shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut the shortbread on the scored marks to separate and serve. Wrap well and store at room temperature for up to 7 days.
I've generally had success with any shortbread recipe I used, though those that contain oats, a traditional ingredient, have had a better crumb. These cookies were the best yet and I'm certain it's because they are not "handled" as other recipes have required. There is no creaming process but just a low and slow mixing of the dry ingredients with the butter. The flavor of the butter shines through, but the texture is perfect, crumbly with an even browning. The fact that the whole process from start to finish was under 30 minutes made this recipe nearly perfect. Why nearly? You are supposed to wait for the shortbread to cool (note to self--be sure to wait next time).