A Simple Trick For Better Textured Shortbread

Compare the recipes for sugar cookies and shortbread and you'll notice the list of ingredients is nearly identical. You'd think that similar ingredients would yield similar cookies, but the taste and texture of sugar cookies and shortbread couldn't be more different. The reason for this, according to Taste of Home, lies in the amount of butter used. Shortbread has a much higher ratio of butter to flour and this is precisely what gives it that distinct melt-in-your-mouth texture. These proportions make shortbread a lot more dense compared to cookies, which means you could easily end up with shortbread that's hard and crunchy rather than buttery and crumbly.

Per Cooktop Cove, this can occur when the dough has either been overworked or not chilled for long enough. Chilling the dough is one of the most important steps in making shortbread because the longer it takes the butter to melt in the oven, the flakier the pastry will be. Cooktop Cove explains that chilling the dough twice can help achieve this, but there's actually a more effective way to go about it.

A grater is the key to better textured shortbread

If you have a grater in your kitchen cabinet, you'll want to pull it out next time you make shortbread. According to Epicurious, the tool most commonly used for blocks of cheese is just as useful for shortbread dough. Instead of sticking your dough in the refrigerator to chill, put it in the freezer instead. Then, when the dough is frozen solid, use your cheese grater to turn it into shreds. During the baking process the shreds will melt together, and because the dough is frozen and not packed as tightly together, you won't have to worry about your shortbread turning out hard and crunchy.

This technique, Potlicker Kitchen shares, comes from Hungarian culinary tradition. Instead of pressing the dough into a pan, Hungarian shortbread instead is formed by layering the shreds of frozen dough and spreading jam in between. The result is a shortbread with a more crumbly texture. 

Apply this same technique to your own recipe, and even without the jam, you'll find your shortbread is perfectly buttery and flaky.