I love homemade shortbread and I have a recipe which I have used for years, however when I went to make my usual recipe this week I realised at the last minute that I was short on icing sugar.
So I tinkered.
And it was better.
I tinkered a little more.
And it was great.
I give you the new improved recipe.
125g plain white flour
30g rice or corn flour
50g caster (fine) sugar
100g regular salted butter or 100g unsalted butter and a pinch of salt.
Preheat oven to 160C (300F)
Place all ingredients in a bowl and either rub the fat into the flour and sugar or, if like me you have a life, simply grab your little hand held electric beater and let that do the work for you.
It doesn't come together as a dough but you should end up with something resembling breadcrumbs or wet sand.
Once you get to this stage, tip the contents of the bowl into a 8 inch loose bottom cake pan, give it a quick shake to level it slightly and then press the crumbs into the bottom of the cake pan. Don't press too hard, you don't want to lose any of the lovely lightness, but be firm enough that it will hold together. Best of all, you don't need to bother preparing the pan in any way. No lining, no greasing, nothing at all.
Once you have it pressed into the pan, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. It took exactly 20 minutes in my oven, but bear in mind that my oven is getting on in years. If your oven is newer check it from from about 13 to 15 minutes.
Once the shortbread is baked, remove it from the oven and place it, still in the pan, on a cooling rack for about 5 or 10 minutes.
You'll notice that there really isn't that much colour change. It's a very pale golden colour all over with slightly more colour just at the very edge.
After about 10 minutes, the shortbread will have had a chance to firm up ever so slightly. At this stage, sprinkle the shortbread with a teaspoon or so of caster sugar. I tend to throw it on in a haphazard fashion and then shake the pan from side to side to cover the top of the shortbread with a thin coat of sugar. Then cut the shortbread into either 8 or 16 wedges whichever you prefer. I tend to cut mine in 8. I find if I cut into 16 I still eat two pieces, although those long slender wedges do look a bit more impressive.
Once cut, leave the shortbread to cool completely in the pan before turning out, drooling all over the camera because you had to photograph it and then enjoy a dense crumbly wedge with coffee, ice cream, dipped into fool or mousse or just naked as it is.