The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Shortbread

Shortbread is perhaps one of the simplest desserts you can prepare. Taste of Home shares a basic shortbread recipe that calls for only three ingredients: butter, sugar, and flour. Even our festive and easy Christmas shortbread recipe calls for those three basic components, plus salt, a little almond extract, and colored sprinkles. With these few ingredients, what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, more than you'd think.

There's no place to hide when your recipe is as simple as most shortbread recipes are. Any error or miscalculation can result in disappointing cookies. For example, using an oven temperature that's too high or baking your shortbread for too long can make your cookies unpleasantly bitter.

Nigella Lawson explains that they can turn out with the dreaded soggy bottom if they're pressed too thickly in a pan, cooked at too high a temperature, or cooked in a non-metal pan that doesn't quickly distribute the oven heat. But what's the biggest mistake cooks make with shortbread?

Make sure your butter is at the right temperature

One of the most critical parts of your shortbread recipe is the temperature of your butter. Fine Cooking explains that the butter should be at refrigerator temperature. While many cookie recipes call for softened butter or at room temperature, if your butter isn't cold when making shortbread, it's likely to turn out greasy or be difficult to roll out.

Depending on how you're shaping your pastry, you may need to simply press it into a pan; you can also shape it into a log or even roll the dough out for cutout cookies. When you're handling the dough, the warmth from your hands may begin to soften the butter.

If your butter begins to warm, simply refrigerate the dough for 10-15 minutes until it firms up again. Simple, delicious shortbread is easy to make once you understand the basics, like keeping your butter cold. And if you're looking for a unique twist on the classic flavor, try adding interesting ingredients like pink peppercorns for a fiery note.