When the settlers came over from Europe, they didn't just bring a will for freedom and revolution: they brought over their shortbread recipes.
Shortbread is perhaps one of the world's most perfect, and most simple, foods. Consisting primarily of flour, butter, sugar, and salt, it can be prettied up in any number of ways, but is in its essence a humble food.
This recipe takes but one liberty: the addition of cornstarch to mimic the lower-protein flours which might have been used in old-school Europe; but otherwise it is fairly straightforward.
To make it a bit more festive, I reserved about 1/8 of the dough, which tinted red. I then made the majority of the dough into a rectangle, removing a portion from the left hand corner to make the blue portion of the flag. I tinted it after I cut it out; this was how I ensured I had enough dough.
Now, I should tell you that decorating with tinted shortbread is tough because you can't really roll or shape it. So I gathered crumbles and kind of pressed them into stripes, and simply shaped and placed the blue portion where I had removed it initially. I used the leftover bits to form ugly multicolored balls of shortbread. They still tasted good.
It baked up pretty sweet, don't you think? Here's the recipe for shortbread--it's a keeper.
How to make perfect shortbread
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (about 6 ounces)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (4 ounces)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (about 2 ounces)
- ¼ cup cornstarch (about 1 ounce)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Cut the butter into pieces. Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter and sugar by hand until pale and creamy.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the bowl of creamed butter and sugar, and mix well, continuing to use your wooden spoon. It will begin to come together in a somewhat crumbly dough, but it should very easily clump together if you gather it with your hand. If baking as a large round or as small cutout cookies, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Lightly flour a work surface. Place the dough on top. Roll out the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick.
- Decide what shape you’d like the shortbread in (follow the steps above, to flag-ify it). If you’d like it to be a round, shape it into a circle by hand. If you’d like it to bake in a pan, press it into a greased 8″ by 8″ pan. Or, simply cut the rolled dough using a lightly floured cutter. Score the dough if it will be sliced after baking, and lightly prick all over with the tines of a fork.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the sides and bottoms are lightly browned but the top is just set. Step 7: Let cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t get greedy, or you might burn your mouth.
Happy 4th of July! Don't forget to make some pop rocks cookies, too.