I wanted to make pretty little cut-and-slice shortbread pieces because our hotel in Malaysia served them for tea, and I became quite fond of them (a little too fond... I'm going to be working them off at the gym for quite a while). Also, this week I needed something quick and easy to make during a weeknight as my weekend is quite packed: a trip to Brighton to see a friend on Saturday, and a trip to Birmingham for another couple of friends' baby shower on Sunday.
You don't even need an electric whisk for this recipe- just a bowl and a wooden spoon. All you have to do is mix up the dough, roll it up into logs, chill them, slice them and bake them. I've made these ones a little cuter by rolling the cookie dough logs in coloured glitter sugar before slicing and baking.
The dough for this recipe seems quite sticky, but the softer the dough, the more melt-in-the-mouth the shortbread is. It's a fine balance though, since too little flour results in a 'cakey' biscuit, and also makes it more difficult for the dough to hold its shape in the oven. I've got the former sorted- as for the latter, a way to combat this is to make sure the dough is as cold as possible before it goes into the oven.
Aside from the buttery, melt-in-the-mouthness of these shortbread biscuits and the ridiculously easy method, one of the best things about this recipe is you can freeze the dough for up to a couple of months until you need it. All you need to do is take a frozen log of dough out, slice it up and bake while still frozen. It's pretty much as close as you can get to have freshly-baked cookies on demand!
250g unsalted butter, softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
400g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1 egg white, saved from the separated egg
Sprinkles/ glitter sugar of your choice
1) In a large bowl, stir the butter and sugar vigorously together until light and fluffy, and thoroughly stir in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
2) Carefully stir in the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth sticky dough.
3) Divide into at least two portions (I made three as I had three colours of sugar sprinkles- one log would be too big even if you only have one type of sprinkle).
4) Mould each portion into a log shape, wrap up in clingfilm, neaten up your log shape and place in the fridge overnight, or the freezer for a couple of hours.
5) When you're ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, and line and lightly grease a couple of baking sheets with with baking paper.
6) Retrieve a cookie dough log from the fridge/ freezer and remove the clingfilm. Brush the log with your reserved egg white, and roll in your sugar sprinkles (easiest to pour a load out onto another tray to do this).
7) Slice the log into 1cm thick rounds, place on your prepared baking sheets about an inch apart (they spread a tiny bit), and bake in the oven for 15mins until the edges just start to turn golden.
8) Cool your biscuits on a wire rack, and enjoy! Or, if you're feeling generous, parcel them up in cellophane bags or boxes and give as gifts.