I was antsy yesterday. I couldn’t stand the thought of just having a lazy Sunday. When I’m idle for too long, I need to be active. That doesn’t always mean I grab my running shoes. More often than I’d like to admit, it means grabbing my butter and baking utensils to whip up something delicious. My taste buds usually thank me but my jeans don’t.
I didn’t want to leave the house though and we were out of eggs and low on flour. I parsed through my various cookbooks to figure out what I could make with lots of butter, some flour, cornstarch and powdered sugar.
Eureka! Of course my baking bible provided the recipe for citrus shortbread. Oh, what’s my baking bible, you ask? It’s called Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. It’s not a huge book (a la Mastering the Art of French Cooking) but it provides most baking basics to the more advanced techniques.
I was looking for a cookie that would not only satisfy my need for cookies with simple ingredients, but I also wanted something to go along with tea. There is nothing quite like tea and cookies, if you ask me. These buttery, crumbly beauties go very well with earl grey. But we opted for a good strong black english tea. These cookies are super easy to make, require cheap ingredients, and will be sure to please your guests. They make a great housewarming gift with tea and a tea set!
Citrus Shortbread (From Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America):
Makes 32 2 1/4″ cookies
- 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 c. of all purpose flour
- 1 c. cornstarch
- 1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. orange zest
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it’s light and smooth. While the butter creams, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Add the powdered sugar and citrus zests to the butter and mix on low-medium speed, scraping down the sides to make sure everything is evenly combined. On low speed, start adding in the flour mixture to the butter, about 1/4 of a cup at a time, scraping down the sides as needed, until you have a uniform dough.
Dust your counter with flour and dump the dough onto the floured surface. Press the dough together and form it into a disk. Cover it with saran wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
After you’ve placed the dough in the fridge, preheat your oven for 350F. Prepare your pans: You can spray them with cooking spray or you can line them with parchment paper or silpat. I’m a parchment girl myself. It allows me to quickly remove the freshly baked cookies on the parchment to a wire rack and add more cookie dough to fresh parchment to place on the same pan and pop it back into the oven. Easy peasy.
By this point your dough should be ready to roll. Dust the counter, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough with more flour. Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick. You can use shortbread molds, stamps, or you can cut up the dough with a knife or use cookie cutters. I opted to use cookie cutters. Simple round 2 1/4″ with scalloped edges. When using the cookie cutter, be sure to dip it in flour to keep the edges from sticking to the dough. Transfer the cut rounds onto the prepared pans, 2 inches apart and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown ever so slightly. You may also want to flip the pans around halfway through baking to make sure the cookies bake evenly.
Once they’re baked, take the pans out of the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Serve them at room temperature with tea. You can also pack up the extra cookies in an airtight container for a week.
Variation: If you just want the classic shortbread, forgo the citrus zests in this recipe.