I’ve added instructions here to get the lightest, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. These are a must over the Christmas season for our family.
An important note on shortbread. The dough, from beginning to end, must be handled as little as possible. I cut the butter into the flour and sugar with two knives. When I need to handle the dough, I chill my hands on some ice for a few moments (we live in a hot country). It is important not to warm the butter too much with handling.
Also, sift the flour well. I sift twice and from a height above the bowl.
100g flour (3.5oz)
50g cornflour (1.7oz)
100g butter (3.5oz)
50g castor sugar (1.7oz)
extra castor sugar for dusting
Sift flour and cornflour. Add butter and sugar. Rub with fingertips until mixture is just beginning to bind together. (Don’t overprocess or the mixture will become oily and the shortbread will be hard.) Knead lightly, just until dough forms a smooth ball. (Use fingertips only – the more you handle the dough, the harder and tougher the result.) Flatted the ball of dough on a baking sheet. Roll out gently using short, sharp strokes to an 18cm circle.. (To get the size perfect, draw a circle on greaseproof paper. Turn, pencil mark down, on your surface. Roll out dough to fit, turning to keep it even.) Transfer round, without paper, to an ungreased baking sheet. Crimp edges. Prick all over with a fork and mark into wedges. (Pricking shortbread stops it bubbling. Mark shortbread so cooked shortbread breaks evenly.) Chill until cold and firm. (Thorough chilling helps to prevent spreading in the oven.) Bake at 180°C (356°F) for 1 hour until pale biscuit coloured. 5 minutes before end of cooking time, remove shortbread and remark wedges. Dust with castor sugar. Leave on baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.