Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Scottish Shortbread]

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And so it begins — 12 days straight of Christmas cookies from around the world.

Scottish Shortbread is a dry, buttery biscuit meant to be eaten with tea.

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The simple 3-ingredient recipe for traditional shortbread illustrates a principle key to successful baking: proper mixing.

I guarantee you, poor or inadequate mixing is the cause of upwards of 80 per cent of epic baking fails.

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Proper mixing is about paying attention, looking, touching, drawing inferences and overall actively mixing.

Take some time, too. Two or three swooshes around the bowl isn’t creating the fine distribution of ingredients necessary.

Scottish Shortbread
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. fine salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, plus more as needed

Whisk dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl for 30 seconds. Add butter pieces. Toss to coat with flour mixture.

Begin to work the butter into the flour with your fingers. Continue until the dough is smooth. Do not get discouraged, as this can take up to 15 minutes. The dough will change appearance several times as you get closer to being done.

However, this dough depends a lot on the moisture content of your butter and flour. If your flour and/or butter is particularly dry, you need to add more butter. So, if the dough continues to appear mealy and dry around the 15 minute mark, add an extra tablespoon of butter at a time until the desired texture is reached. Add a maximum of three extra tablespoons of butter.

Flip the dough out onto an unfloured surface. Form into a 4×6-inch rectangle. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rectangular bars. Prick bars in a pattern with a fork. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate uncovered cookies on sheets for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 275F. The low temperature will help keep the cookies from spreading and keep the rectangles sharp. Bake 40-45 minutes, rotating sheets once. Immediately sprinkle cookies with granulated sugar when you remove them from the oven. Cool on sheet on rack. Remove to rack to cool completely.

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2 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Scottish Shortbread]

    • Ramona: I haven’t included a final number of cookies here, but you can expect roughly three dozen cookies from this recipe. It doubles easily. Hope that helps!

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