Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cake of the Week: Shortbread

Remember that time I told you I was done with LOTR? I lied. But I promise this is the last Elvish posting…and it’s a good one! Some may call it shortbread. Some may call it lembas bread. Some may call it little triangles of buttery deliciousness!

When done badly, shortbread can be dry and non-chocolate and booorrriiinnnggg. (I’m thinking bad store-bought Christmas cookies.) Or it can be rich and dense and buttery and flaky and fabulous (yes - all at once)!

This shortbread recipe is great. It’s simple – only a few ingredients. But due to a long and slow cooking process it takes a while. I wish I had doubled it – I’ll do that next time. And there will definitely be a next time because these simple-looking bars pack some serious flavor punch! The only modification I made was to add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

I recommend you try a triangle of shortbread with your coffee. Yummmmm!

Scotch Shortbread/Lembas Bread (from The Cooking Photographer)

This shortbread needs to rest in the refrigerator and bake three separate times, but it’s worth it! The only shortcut is using a food processor to mix everything together.


1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

½ cup tapioca flour, or tapioca starch, or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, warmed slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup super fine sugar (or regular granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor or blender for 15 seconds)

1 to 2 Tablespoons sparkling white sugar (or granulated sugar)


1. Line a 9” square baking pan with foil. (I didn't have any foil, so I thoroughly greased the pan.)

2. Place the all purpose flour, tapioca flour or corn starch and salt in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds until mixed and fluffed. Move the flour mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.

3. Place the butter and super fine sugar and vanilla in the food processor and process until light and fluffy. Add half of the flour mixture back in and process until combined. Add the other half of the flour mixture and process just until almost wet looking but not combined.

4. Turn the batter out onto a clean surface and knead just until the dough is smooth. Press the dough into the baking pan and smooth with the back of a dough scraper. Sprinkle cookies with coarse sparkling sugar.

5. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 2 or more hours. After resting, place the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.

6. Bake One: Bake the shortbread for 55 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes then cut into squares in the pan with the dough scraper. Leave the shortbread in the pan and the oven on during this time.

7. Bake Two: Place the pan back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes and then move the foil with the cookies to a baking sheet. Separate the cookies a little.

8. Bake three: Bake the cookies on the sheet for 10 more minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes and move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

And if you’re Middle Earth-inclined make these for a LOTR party, wrap them in leaves, and call them elvish lembas bread! That'll get you through the long trek to Mordor...or through a 4.5-hour extended version film...