We have a gift exchange during our staff Christmas potluck lunch in December. I work at a church, so that’s why it’s not a “holiday” potluck. We exchange real gifts at this gathering, not white elephants (those are saved for the Epiphany party, of course). The gifts are given Secret Santa style. I was the lucky recipient of a beautifully decorative shortbread.
Since my boss, the Interim Rector, had brought an identical shortbread for us to sample during the potluck. I had a really good idea who my secret Santa was. That’s good for you and me, because I asked for his recipe which he gladly shared, adding that what makes this shortbread different is the addition of corn starch, which keeps the end product a little softer than most.
Another secret he shared is that he heats his stoneware baking molds in the oven while its preheating. When the buttery batter is patted into the hot mold, it melts enough to completely fill all of the little nooks in crannies in the detailed mold. His mold is from Hartstone. They are still making stoneware. This beautiful mold isn’t in their current inventory, but I noticed several just like this on eBay in the $20-25 range. With the heart pattern this shortbread and/or pan would make a great Valentine’s gift.
A friend brought me a tin of Walker’s shortbread when I was in the hospital after delivering our twin daughters. As an experienced mom of three, she said, “you’re going to get lots of things for the babies. This is for you. A little something to enjoy when you’re up during the middle of the night.”
Ever since then, shortbread has become a comfort food in my dictionary. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s the Canon’s recipe for shortbread.
- 1 pound butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup corn starch
- Pinch of salt (this would be my addition because I think even sweet favors are brightened by a hint of salt)
- Preheat oven to 325 (may heat mold during preheat)
- Melt butter
- Add sugar
- Add butter and corn starch, one cup at a time
- The mixture will be very crumbly
- Pat into two 8 inch molds (for a thick shortbread) or into one sheet pan (will be thinner)
- Bake for 40 minutes
- Reduce heat to 300 and bake 20 minutes longer