Rain and thunderstorms! It is the perfect weather for doing a little baking. We LOVE baking in the rain.
If you are game, too…then turn your oven to 300*F and get ready for some bold, rustic flavor! These little shortbread cuties are full of butter, rosemary and orange zest. They are perfect anytime, but absolutely divine with tea or coffee. Simple and beautiful, this recipe feels old fashioned with the flare of current tastebuds.
Warning: these are addictive and VERY rich. Get ready to impress even yourself in just a couple of easy steps.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
zest of 1 orange
In a medium bowl, sift together your dry ingredients.
Now for the most important ingredient in shortbread: BUTTER!
The key to amazing shortbread is a beautiful butter. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until it is light and fluffy. Since the machine is literally doing all the work for you, do not rush this step….and just be thankful that mixing this with a wooden spoon is a days-gone-by procedure!
Once things are light and fluffy, strip the whole leaves off of some fresh rosemary. It should be about 2 tablespoons or about two sprigs. I do not like to chop the herb for this recipe because I like seeing and knowing what I am eating. Besides, the whole leaves of the rosemary give this shortbread such a rustic charm.
Continue to mix and scrape down the bowl while adding the rosemary and the orange zest. Things are starting to smell soooo good!!
Add the flour gradually, but mix until just combined. Try not to overmix the dough, as the gluten will overdevelop and make for a tough cookie….yuck!
There are quite a few ways to prep shortbread for the oven. It is not a drop cookie and needs to be pressed, so you can choose your favorite shape. I like rustic, so I usually lay down some parchment and press it into a large pie shape. Then, I use a knife to score it into pie wedges.
Today, I opted to create a large rectangle and scored it into long, skinny rectangles or fingers.
Exact is not important, but just so you know for thickness sake, I pressed the dough into a 9″ X 7″ rectangle.
I like to use a bit of plastic wrap to smooth out some of my finger divots. Then, into the fridge it goes for 20 minutes. You want that butter to firm back up a bit before it goes into the oven. If you have not preheated your oven, this is a great time to set it to 300*F.
Using a knife or a pizza roller, score it into your cookie shapes.
Though not necessary, I like to use a skewer or toothpick to create a design. When the cookies cook, the design will remain.
Look at that beautiful rosemary and orange zest!
Bake in a 300*F oven for 50-60 minutes. You are looking for a barely golden color…it should remain pretty blonde.
While still hot, sprinkle with sea salt and use a knife to score along your previous cut marks (this is easy while still hot, but as the shortbread cools it is going to get hard).
Once cool, separate the cookies and serve.
Somebody’s happy!! LOL
Bon apetit, peeps!
Photography by A Little Long Distance