I’ve been re-reading Lady of Magic, volume 2 in the Noctis Magicæ trilogy by Sylvia Izzo Hunter. Much of the action takes place in Din Edin (Edinburgh) in an alternate timeline wherein Christianity never took hold, so everyone worships either the Roman gods or their local dieties, magic still exists and can be studied at university level, and Henry XII is on the throne of Greater Britain in what I’d guess would be about 1810. They keep mentioning Scottish shortbread, which gave me the inspiration to try making it again.
I used to make this shortbread years ago… lost the recipe… and found this almost identical recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge online at www.finecooking.com. Ginger adds a wonderful spark of flavor to what is otherwise a rather boring teatime treat.
This recipe takes ten minutes to prep, 30-40 minutes to bake, and makes 40 bars or 24 wedges. Serve with Earl Grey tea, hot.
425g (3⅓ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour OR gluten-free flour mix
15g (2 Tbsp) cornflour
4g (1 tsp) salt
200g (1½ cups) unsalted butter, softened
150g (5¼ oz) icing (confectioner’s) sugar
35g finely chopped or grated crystallized ginger
20g finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or paste
Extra butter or oil spray such as Pam for greasing the pans
1. For rectangular cookies, lightly grease the bottom of a straight-sided 9×13-inch baking pan. For wedges, lightly grease two 9” spring form pans with removable sides.
2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form moist clumps, about 1 minute. [I used an electric hand mixer, and it was perhaps not as smooth but certainly as tasty as using the stand mixer.]
4. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan (if making wedges, divide the dough between the two spring form pans). Using lightly floured fingertips, press the dough into the pan(s) to form an even layer.
Note: For rectangular cookies, use a bench knife or a paring knife to cut the dough all the way through into 40 bars. With the tines of a fork, prick each bar twice all the way through, spacing the holes evenly and on the diagonal. Lightly flour the tines as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.
For wedges, cut each pan of dough all the way through to form 12 wedges. With the tines of a fork, prick the wedges three times all the way through, spacing the holes evenly over the dough. [Once the dough is cut, it can be chilled for a day or frozen for a month.]
5. Freeze the dough while heating the oven to 325°F.
6. Bake the dough, rotating the pan(s) halfway through, until the top(s) looks dry and golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a rack. Using a paring knife or bench knife, immediately re-cut the cookies along the lines. Cool completely before removing them from the pan(s). Store in an airtight container, with parchment between the layers.
Here is a printable .pdf file of Ginger Shortbread.