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Shortbread Tips and Tricks

Teatime Shortbread Pan

Shortbread Tips and Tricks

Making a beautiful and delicious shortbread is not difficult, but there is a definitely science to it! With every Shortbread Pan or Shortbread Mix Set we sell, we include a care instruction card as well as a booklet of easy-to-follow recipes. We understand that bakers of all experience levels purchase our pans, and we want to share a few tips that might make your shortbread baking experience easier than ever! 

What is the best butter to use? 

You may be tempted to use the most inexpensive butter you can find when baking, since butter ends up mixed in with all of the other ingredients, however, a rule of thumb for bakers is to always use the highest quality butter you can find. The reason you want to use high-quality butter when making shortbread is because cheaper butters tend to have a higher percentage of milk solids, which are water-based. This causes air bubbles when a shortbread bakes. Be sure to use unsalted butter, and never, ever use margarine for a shortbread recipe! (It will change the texture of the shortbread.) 

Can I used melted butter? 

NO! When it comes to shortbread, melted butter will make your dough difficult to mix evenly. (Additionally, cold butter will require you to knead the dough more, which will result in a tough shortbread. Nobody wants that!) Simply place your butter on the counter within a hours before you plan to bake. You want your butter to be at room temperature and easily spreadable. 

Is there a preferred type of flour you recommend? 

For shortbread, we like to use the well-known brands of “All Purpose” flour, such as King Arthur Flour, Gold Medal, or Pillsbury. Additionally, you will not need to sift the flour when making shortbread. We do not recommend using low-gluten pastry flour to make regular shortbread, however gluten-free recipes are easily found online.

I’ve heard some people refrigerate their dough before baking it. What’s up with that? 

This is actually a really good practice! Because you’re using room temperature butter to make the dough, it’s a good idea to place your dough into the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the butter can re-harden. Then, press it into your Shortbread Pan for baking. During the cooking process, you’ll want your butter to melt slowly as the shortbread bakes, which ensures the shortbread it light and flaky.

Should I spray the pan with oil-spray? 

We prefer to lightly spray our Shortbread Pans, although, others believe it is not always necessary. We suggest trying it both ways and see which you prefer. But remember, if you choose to use spray oil, use it sparingly, (just enough to coat the surface – not fill in (or, pool in) any part of the designs.) Alternatively, you could slightly warm the pan and then brush the area that will be in contact with the cookie dough with cooking oil or olive oil. Warming the pan allows the oil to become slightly thinner, which helps it to move into intricate parts of the design work. (Remember still, you don’t want to see oil pooling into the design crevices, just lightly coating the pan.) If you over-oil using the brushing or spraying method, simply use a paper towel to remove the access. 

Why does shortbread have fork-shaped holes all over it? 

Poking shortbread dough with a fork before after pressing it into the pan and before placing the pan in the oven allows air to escape the dough, and it allows heat to distribute evenly.

Does it matter which oven shelf it bakes on? 

Yes! We like to bake our shortbread in the top 1/3rd of a 325 degree oven. 

How will I know when the shortbread is fully baked? 

It will be time to remove it from the oven when the top of the shortbread turns a toasty brown color. Once you’ve taken it out of the oven, let the shortbread rest in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. 

What is the best way to remove the shortbread from the pan? 

After your shortbread has rested for 10 minutes, use potholders or towels to carefully pick up the pan. Then, turn the pan over, approximately three inches above a cutting board. (Do not use a glass cutting board for this step!) The shortbread should drop directly out of the pan, onto the cutting board. If it doesn’t, don’t worry, simply tap one edge of the pan and the shortbread should drop out. 

When should I cut the slices? 

You’ll want to cut the slices as soon as the Shortbread is flipped onto the cutting board, (while it’s still hot). As the Shortbread cools, it will become more difficult to slice. Remember to cut the pieces with a thin, sharp knife. 

Is my Brown Bag Designs Shortbread Pan dishwasher safe?

People are often concerned about washing their pans, but, they are actually completely dishwasher safe! (As is all of our glazed pottery, too.) You can hand wash your pan or place it in the dishwasher – no problem! Also, the pan can be soaked to help loosen stubborn baked-on dough. Additionally, it’s normal for the pans to develop a ‘patina’ in the color over time and with use.

Anything else I should know? 

Some people like to cream (mix) the butter and sugar for up to 10 minutes before adding the flour. This will eliminate the desire to over-knead the dough once the flour is added. 

What are your tried & true favorite shortbread recipes?

We have many favorites! Click the button below to view various original and flavored shortbread recipes.


Peanut Butter Shortbread With Chocolate Dip
Pumpkin Spiced Shortbread

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