I can’t say I’ve run into many baking emergencies—that is, having to unexpectedly whip something up at the last minute. Still, it’s great to be prepared, so I typically keep the makings of at least chocolate chip cookies and brownies in my pantry.
Now, I’m adding to a new at-my-fingertips treat to my repertoire: Proper British Shortbread. With only five ingredients and barely 20 minutes of prep time, this is a recipe you can throw together with little planning—or stress. And yes, there’s just one bowl needed.
The term “short” in shortbread refers to the type of dough, which is very tender and relatively high in fat. Here, there is a high proportion of butter, which accounts for a third of the weight of the ingredients. This makes for a particularly crumbly, melt-in-your mouth cookie that is satisfying without being too rich. It’s classy and restrained, just what you’d expect of this favorite British treat from national treasure and former “Great British Baking Show” judge Mary Berry.
Take a bite and you’ll be immediately reminded of the Danish butter cookies you find in those ubiquitous blue tins, and that’s not a bad thing.
Berry mixes the all-purpose flour with semolina, a coarse flour you often find in pizza or pasta, for extra crunch. For an even more melt-away mouthfeel, swap in equal amounts of cornstarch or rice flour for the semolina. Prefer only flour? That’s fine, too. Whatever you use, be sure not to overwork the mixture, as it will create too much gluten and toughen the dough.
I wouldn’t be on my own personal brand, or Berry’s, if I didn’t mention that this shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. Then again, I will sneak in tastes just about any time of day. Good thing this cookie is easy to prepare whenever the craving strikes.