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Bonnie's Perfect Shortbread
Carrie Brown, John Werner, and Michael McLaughlin's The Jimtown Store Cookbook, Harper Collins, 2002
Adapted by StarChefs

Our friend Bonnie Z bakes, when she can find time, and shared this perfected recipe with us. Its simple, pure, and perfect crisp and toothsome. Because it has so much to do with the flavor and texture of the finished shortbread, this is a good place to splurge on a low moisture imported European butter (like Plugra), sold in specialty shops.

Yield: 16 wedges

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus sugar for sprinkling
  • Salt

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 300F.

In a food processor, combine flour, butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix until the flour is moistened and the dough just comes together; do not overprocess. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Gather and press it into a ball and divide it in half.

Set each half of dough on the bottom of an inverted 9-inch cake tin.* Roll or pat the dough balls out into 8 1/2-inch rounds. Smooth the edges with your fingers, then decoratively crimp the edges or flute them with the tines of a fork. With a sharp knife, score each dough round into 8 equal wedges. With the tines of a fork, pierce each wedge in a decorative pattern. Evenly sprinkle the top of each dough round with about 2 teaspoons sugar.

Bake until the shortbread is just set and is a light gold, about 30 minutes. Remove and cut the warm shortbread into wedges with a sharp knife. Slide the shortbreads off the cake tins onto a rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight tin at room temperature.

*Note: The cake tins help you form the shortbread dough into perfect rounds, as they expand in baking to the edge of the pans. Using the bottoms, rather than the insides, of the pans, lets you slide them easily onto racks to cool. The cookies can also be baked on flat cookie sheets without sides.

 

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