As a born and bred American, with many nationalities and countries in my blood, I often wish to have a stronger heritage. In my melting pot I have Venezuelan, Dutch, Austrian, and English ancestry to name a few, but what that boils down to is American.
My name, however, has a direct lineage. Lindsay is Scottish, and means “linden tree near the water.” My middle name, Maitland, is Scottish, too. Despite the fact that I am descended from long-ago settlers in this land, I like to pretend I am still a little bit Scottish, too.
Like my name, shortbread originated in Scotland, and I wager that most Americans associate the treat with a tartan-patterned package.
For me, shortbread conjures up the taste of a chalky, packaged, lego-shaped cookie. There’s butter, to be sure, but the cookie is chalky and needs to be bitten with the molars, not the front-teeth. I wanted to find a cookie that made me proud of my Scottish appellation, one that might explain my penchant for baking.
This Citrus Shortbread showcases the flavor of high-end butter. It melts in your mouth and leaves traces on your fingers. I added a teaspoon of orange zest for additional flavor. Next, I want to try a black pepper shortbread, and then maybe one with cocoa powder. The possibilities are limitless, this simple recipe is only the beginning.
I made a cup of strong black tea and enjoyed the buttery shortbread fingers. I guess I’m a little bit Scottish, after all.
Adapted from Greg Patent’s A Baker’s Odyssey
- 1 cup (2 sticks) high-quality salted butter, such as
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp finely grated zest, from an orange or lemon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus for rolling
1. The butter should be slightly soft to the touch, leaving a light indent if you press gently with your finger. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium until light and fluffy, scraping the sides as needed, about 3 minutes. Cream the sugar and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides occasionally to make sure the butter and sugar are evenly incorporated.
2. Add the vanilla and citrus zest and mix on low speed to combine. One cup at a time, add the flour and mix on low speed to incorporate. Scrape down the sides between additions. Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap well and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
3. When the dough has chilled for at least 1 hour, dust a clean work surface with flour. Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll into a 9 x 6-inch rectangle, 1/2 to 1/4-inch thick.
4. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise into 1-inch strips. Then cut the dough widthwise into 11/2-inch pieces. Transfer the shortbread to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
5. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the shortbread for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.