Christmas is my favourite time of year. I’m the girl who puts up the tree on the first of December; who transforms her house into a glittering, twinkling Santa Clause shrine; who spends every weekend turning her kitchen into a bakery, the smell of fresh dough wafting through the house all hours of the day. Because what is Christmas without freshly baked cookies? Cookies are to Christmas what sunshine is to a summer’s day, and the festive season without cookies just wouldn’t be festive.
One of the most cherished Christmas cookies has to be shortbread. Soft and buttery with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, I could eat shortbread until I pass out. It took me a few tries to perfect this recipe – one of which resulted in pancake-flat cookies – but once I got it right, the shortbread came out with a crumbly texture, crunchy bite, and a rich buttery flavour.
I’ve taken laziness to a whole new level with this recipe. Because my boyfriend encourages me to work smart and not hard, I decided to remove the step where you would usually knead the mixture into a ball of dough. Instead, all you have to do is pour the crumbs into a baking tin, and gently press down until the tin is covered. Simple as that – no kneading, sweating or getting your hands dirty.
Make a batch of this buttery shortbread and give them out as gifts, or keep them all to yourselves and enjoy them with a steaming cup of tea.
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cornflour
- 1 cup room temperature butter (not too soft or too hard)
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup caster sugar
Preheat oven to 170˚C and grease a 22cm baking tray
In a bowl, sift together flour and cornflour. Set aside
In a separate bowl, cream together butter, salt and sugar until pale in colour
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix all ingredients together quickly and thoroughly, without over-mixing. The mixture should resemble fine crumbs
Tip the mixture into the baking tray, ensuring it is equally spread. Gently press down the mixture until the tray is covered and level. It should now resemble cookie dough, with no crumbs left
Prick the surface all over with a fork or toothpick
Bake for 15-20 minutes, before the edges of the shortbread start to turn brown
Remove from oven and slice into squares or rectangles while it is still warm. Sprinkle caster sugar over the shortbread. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin and enjoy
- Shortbread is meant to be kept as chilled as possible, as a warm dough results in a poor crumb. Make sure your butter isn’t too soft or warm, and you handle the dough as little as possible.