Monday, January 19, 2009

Shuna’s Shortbread and a Marathon


I seriously irritated my vocal chords yesterday whilst cheering for my friends during the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon.  My neighbor, Alma brought cowbells (her husband, John and sixteen-year-old son, Joey ran), and together we rattled and yelled at the top of our voices as the brave runners went by.  You see, I’m the world’s best cheerleader when it comes to marathons and I have a lot of admiration for people who jog for fitness, but personally, I think there’s an element of craziness involved in running a marathon.  Seriously, how sane can you be if  you’re willing to torture your mind and body by pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles!  Alma lost count of the times I mentioned the word ‘crazy’ at around 30!

Now the half marathon I can handle with a combination of fast walking and light running.  My dear friend, Dorota finished the half marathon yesterday doing just that, and she seemed much less the worse for wear afterwards.  One of her favorite cookies is shortbread, and I baked a batch especially for her and the crazy (there I go again!) runners to enjoy on marathon day.  I’m sharing the recipe below.

Sincerely now, many cheers to my friends who ran and beat the heat (the temperature reached 70F).   It is quite an accomplishment.  I was very touched at the finish line watching Joey and John run side  by side, a blind young man with his leader, fathers lifting their kids and running to the end (I’m choking up as I write) and many participants limping and grimacing all the way.  I hope you have an easy recovery and I’ll definitely be there next year to cheer you on!


Now for the shortbread:  I have been eyeing Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for a while.  Ms. Lydon is an accomplished chef and baker and is presently working in London.  I was introduced to her work during a Daring Bakers Challenge and my results of her delicious Caramel Cake recipe are on another website.  I plan to re-publish the post here on my very own blog in the near future, so stay tuned if you have not seen it yet!

Back to the shortbread:  Ms. Lydon recommends the dough be frozen or refrigerated before being baked and to look for a cookie that is uniformly baked (the color will be the same throughout).

Shortbread Cookies (My minor changes are in parentheses)

- Makes a baker’s dozen (I was able to bake 24 cookies)


8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

4 1/2 ounces sugar (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Dash of vanilla extract

9 ounces all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups, a little more than 9 ounces)

2 teaspoons minced herbs (I didn’t add the herbs but I’ll try it next time)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; or 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped; or 1 tablespoon finely ground toasted hazelnuts; or 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds (I added about 2 tablespoons toasted, ground almonds)

1. Cream butter until smooth, add sugar and salt and cream a bit further, but do not beat ferociously as you do not want to incorporate air. Mix in all additions, one at a time, and fold in the flour gently but well.

2. Wrap dough as a flat disc and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. You may do any number of things with this shortbread. I like to roll it out (sheet) between two pieces of parchment so as to get an even cookie without adding any more flour, which will make this cookie tough. If you sheet the dough, you may use any shape cutter. Shortbread can also be re-sheeted this way until you have no more dough.

4. You may also roll it in a log and chill or freeze log, baking only what you need when inspiration strikes you. If you go the log route, you may want to roll log in raw or turbinado sugar and then slice. Slice rounds no thicker than 1/2 inch.

5. Preheat oven to 300°F or 150°C.

6. Place cookies on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  If the bottom of your oven runs hot, double pan to ensure safety of your cookies. Set first timer for 15 minutes, at which time turn pan around to get an even bake. Set second timer for 8 to 12 minutes, but depending on your oven they may need a little more time.

7. With shortbread it is very important that a low and slow bake takes place and that the cookie is evenly dark golden. Color is flavor here. 

8. Shortbread will keep two days at room temperature, although they are best eaten the day they are baked.


The cookies passed the test of approval by all who savored them.  Buttery and rich, this recipe is a keeper!



  1. I like shortbread cookies and these look so delicious.
    It is an excellent idea to make the dough and put it in the freezer. Sometimes I bake cookies, let them cool and then freeze them for later use.

  2. I hope you come and cheer me on one day! Thanks so much for the cookies from your test kitchen. Nice photo, DSN! Like how you worked in the map!!!


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