This is everything a shortbread should be: rich, buttery, not too sweet and very lemony. I found the recipe online, but so long ago I forgot what blog I got it from. This time my shortbreads got a little dark as I sprinkled demerara sugar on top before baking and baked possibly 5 minutes too long, but they still were delicious! And with so much butter they stand up to the heat!
I also like the simplicity of shortbread. So few ingredients and they come together quickly and easily.
Start by zesting the lemons. Yes, that is 1 1/2 sticks of butter. By overlapping the parchment over a 9″ baking pan you can easily lift out the shortbread once baked.
The butter must be very soft and it’s best to sift the confectioners sugar to get out all the lumps. Similar to biscuit dough you want to mix thoroughly, but be gentle.
Once the butter is mixed well with vanilla, lemon juice, zest and sugar, you will add the flour in 2 parts, mixing with a spatula until well combined.
Drop the dough in spoonfuls into the prepared pan and spread out as smoothly as possible with your fingers.
This is kind of fun as the dough is so soft and pliant and feels very good on the fingers. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 24 hours. I chilled overnight and baked the next morning. The chilling creates a more tender shortbread. Because I topped with brown sugar, the shortbread got a little darker than I would’ve liked, but the taste, as my “friend” Mary Berry would say, was SCRUMMY!
These shortbreads come together very easily. They are rich, buttery and not too sweet. The lemon adds a bright, fresh flavor.
- 3/4 cup Butter, very soft at room temperature That is 1 1/2 sticks.
- 1 1/4 cup Flour You can use cake flour, but I used all-purpose white flour.
- Large Pinch Salt That's about a scant 1/8 tsp.
- 2 Tbsp. Lemon zest The fresher the lemon, the juicier and tastier the zest.
- 1/8 tsp. Vanilla That is literally a couple of drops.
- 1/4 tsp. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1-2 Tbsp. Granulated sugar for topping I used demerara so the shortbreads got a bit brown.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" square baking pan. Lay a piece of parchment over the greased pan and cut away two sides so you are left with parchment hanging over on 2 sides only. This acts as a lift to remove the shortbread once baked. Grease the parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the softened butter with lemon zest, juice and the drops of vanilla.
Sift the powdered confectioners sugar right over the butter and mix well so no lumps remain.
Add the flour and salt in 2 parts, mixing with a spatula until it is smooth, well combined and no dry spots remain. Mix gently, but thoroughly.
Drop small amounts of the dough in the prepared pan and spread evenly with your fingers until the dough covers the whole surface. Make sure the edges are covered. Make it as even as possible, but it will not be perfect. Because of the amount of butter, the shortbreads are self-leveling as they bake so will even out.
Refrigerate at least an hour and up to 24. I kept mine in the fridge overnight. You can bake straight away, but the chilling helps the dough become more tender.
Preheat oven to 325.
Sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake for 40 minutes until the top is dry and slightly puffed. Check at 35 minutes to make sure the shortbreads are not over-baking. If you want them darker, leave for another couple minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack and carefully cut into squares.
Let cool on the rack completely. Lift the whole square of the pan with the help of the parchment paper and carefully break each piece apart.