Sunday, January 6, 2013

National Shortbread Day

Today is National Shortbread Day, so I baked a batch of shortbread. Well, every day is something day, but I like shortbread. And I wanted to use my cookie stamps, so I didn't add any chocolate chips. If you don't have any cookie stamps, you can use the bottom of a glass. Some even have patterns. When I want totally flat cookies, I use the bottom of a measuring cup.

I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for Scottish Shortbread Cookies. Shortbread is traditionally mixed with the hands, but I have a silicone paddle attachment for my stand mixer, so I can put all the ingredients in the mixer bowl. This paddle is amazing. It scrapes the sides of the bowl as it mixes, and can even fold beaten eggs for sponge cake.

Beat the butter and sugars, then stir in the flour by hand or machine, until the dough comes together in a ball. The recipe calls for superfine sugar, but I get excellent cookies with regular granulated sugar.

Ms. Beranbaum uses a type of shortbread stamp that I've never seen anywhere else. (Does anyone know where I can get one?)

This is my collection of stamps. I have three sizes of clay stamps that I bought from a mail order catalogue (probably Sunset House--remember them?) many years ago. They have no markings, so I don't know who made them. They came in the cute little bags, which are very handy for storing them.

This is the newest addition to my collection. I bought it from an Australian woman who sells on Etsy. For all you Whovians out there, she also makes a stamp in the shape of the Doctor Who logo. This is very delicate--it has to be washed in cold water to keep it from melting. It's worth the trouble, though. The cookies are cool!

These two are from Rycraft, which has an extensive catalogue of stamps. Uffda is an all-purpose Norwegian exclamation.

And the Celtic knot is from Gosforth Pottery in England.

These are commemorative stamps from Cookie Cutter Collectors Club conventions in Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, PA and La Crosse, WI.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball, and coat the ball with sugar, so the stamp won't stick to the dough, and the dough won't stick to the waxed paper. If the dough comes up with the stamp, you can peel it off and still have a usable cookie. If your dough is too soft to work with, chill it very briefly. If it gets too cold you won't get a good impression, either. Then chill or freeze the raw cookies so they are quite cold (frozen is okay) when they go into the oven. This will prevent spreading and keep your impression sharp. For this part of the process, place the raw cookies close together so they fill up fewer cookie sheets.

 Raw cookies:

Baked cookies. You'll get better results if you fill your cookie sheet with the same shape. One got a little smashed while chilling, but that doesn't affect the tastiness. Leave enough space between the cookies so they bake evenly. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and slide the paper of cookies off the hot baking sheet onto a cooling rack as soon as they come out of the oven.

These should be very lightly browned on the bottom and almost white on top. 

But don't worry about what they look like. They won't last long enough for it to matter!