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Several years ago, on a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)*, we lucked into a special Christmas display in The Grange, the lovely 19th century estate located just south of the main building. A friendly woman in period dress was serving the last few pieces of some shortbread that she had made in the wood-fired oven of the Grange kitchen.
We stood in the warm kitchen, savouring our shortbread until we were the only ones in the kitchen on that otherwise busy December day. The other visitors had moved on and new visitors merely glanced in because all the shortbread had been snagged. We were transfixed. We stood and exclaimed over the shortbread – it was fantastic – and asked the lady if the recipe was a secret.
Lucky us, not only was it not a secret but it was printed out in a little booklet, “Receipts Used in the Grange Kitchen”. All of the booklets had been sold already so the lady gave us her sample copy that was on the table! Ever since, every Christmas, T has been making the most wonderful shortbread. Friends beg for it….
And it is good! Really good. Thank you thank you, lovely lady at the Grange!
for one 11×17″ jelly roll tray
based on a recipe in Receipts Used in the Grange Kitchen (AGO)edited 13 December 2007: correction!! The oven temperature for the first baking should be 250F
- 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 c white sugar
- 1-2 tsp seasalt, to taste**
- 2 c sweet butter, softened
- Put all ingredients into a bowl. Use your fingers to mix til crumbly.
- Taste for salt. Add more if necessary.
- Use your hands to pat the dough into an ungreased jellyroll pan. Pierce through at frequent intervals with a fork. Bake at
250F on the uppermost shelf of the oven for about 80 minutes – until the bottom is golden but not dark. 300F
- Remove from oven. While they are warm, use a straight edge to cut the shortbread into rectangles. Standing the rectangles on their sides with plenty of space between each rectangle (use a couple of cookie trays) and bake at 200F (note that the oven is set at a lower temperature) for another hour. Cool the cookies completely and taste to make sure they’re crisp. If not, stick them back in the oven.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in a tin. They keep well for a month (if you’re lucky enough to have them around for a month).
** Note that we like to taste the salt in our shortbread. We find that it really improves the flavour.
Shortbread is, of course, wonderful on its own. It is also good dipped into warm mincemeat.
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