Scotch Shortbread from Anonymous XIII

   Shortbread is a rich pastry made with butter, sugar and flour. After baking, it becomes tender-crisp. On a recent trip to visit friends, we had the opportunity to sample some "oh-so good” shortbread. Later the person that made that shortbread shared the step-by-step process with us . . . using well-seasoned, imprinted ceramic baking molds from another generation.
     Although the baker prefers to remain anonymous, we are delighted to have the recipe and will definitely be on the lookout for our own ceramic shortbread mold. But, as directed by our anonymous friend, we will carefully follow the instructions for seasoning the mold before its first use. I should also note that the dough can be pressed into a jelly roll pan if molds are not available.
     The recipe makes about four to six batches when using the ceramic molds (check out the photos for an indication of how much dough to add to pans – our friend has experimented with both thin and thick layers; currently the thinner cookies seem to be the favorite). 

Scotch Shortbread from Anonymous XIII
Our baker friend prefers the additional salt from salted butter in this recipe and also sets the shortbread mold on the top of the range so they are slightly warm when dough is pressed into them.

1 lb. salted butter at room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour
Salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon
1 cup granulated sugar

1.  Using a mixer, combine the butter, flour and salt.
2.  Gradually add the sugar and mix to uniform consistency.
3.  Pat firmly into an ungreased pan (the back of a spoon works well for this task). Note: If not using all of the dough, refrigerate for later use. Should have enough dough to fill a 13"x18"x 1" jelly roll pan, creating a thicker (½” thick) dough. If using the standard ceramic mold (usually about 8” to 9” in diameter), divide dough into fourths for ½” thick shortbread or for thinner shortbread, divide dough into 6 portions.
4.  Prick dough frequently with a fork for uniform cooking.
5.  Bake in a preheated 325° oven for 45 minutes or until lightly browned throughout.
6.  Immediately after removing shortbread from oven, invert pan onto a cookie sheet, rapping the edge of the pan to release cookies.
7.  Using a sharp knife, cut shortbread immediately. If using a ceramic mold, follow the imprinted the pattern.
If baking shortbread in a jelly roll pan, it could be left in the pan but should be cut into desired shapes immediately after it comes out of the oven.

Check out the step-by-step photos for making shortbread . . .

The Science of Shortbread!
The recipe included in this post started out as a family recipe. But, over time, the anonymous baker has experimented with a variety of mixing methods and techniques. Since our friend is interested in the science of baking, I’m including some sites that we have recently explored and shared:
Shirley O. Corriher’s book, CookWise, is also a great food science reference.

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