Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges

Last year, I took part in the LA Food Bloggers Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry!  I met so many wonderful bloggers and had a great time.  Plus, I had BLD‘s life-changing Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.  So really, it was a win-win day!

This year, my wonderful husband spotted a newspaper article asking for volunteer bakers for a No Kid Hungry Bake Sale closer to home!  The Redlands Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry sponsored by a Team called the IE Cookie Monsters.  It had to be fate!  You know how I feel about cookies!!

After sending an Email to Team IE Cookie Monsters, I started planning what I wanted to bake. Of course, I had to make brownies. That seems to be a tradition now.  I knew I wanted to do something different, but what?   After a bit of recipe searching, I settled on these easy and delicious Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges.  They are thick, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, have with a cup of tea on a rainy day, cookies.
Scored Shortbread Wedges

I’m planning on making these again for Mothers Day.  That is, if I can wait that long for another batch.

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar (or regular sugar, with one tsp vanilla bean paste), plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

2 cups Flour

1 tsp salt

Directions:

In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it turns a pale yellow.  On a sheet of parchment paper, sift sugars together using a fine mesh sieve. Pick up the parchment paper and use it to gently add sugar mix to the butter. Continue to beat until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).  If you are using regular sugar, add the vanilla paste after you’ve creamed the sugar and butter together.

Sift flour and salt together over the same sheet of parchment paper.  Add to butter/sugar mix, mix until just incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

After dough has chilled, press gently in an 8″ round cake pan.  No need to grease the pan, there is plenty of butter in the dough!  Score the dough into wedges, so it will be easier to cut when it’s done baking.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top of the shortbread has barely browned.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cut the shortbread along the score marks, forming eight large wedges.  Dust lightly with 1 tsp granulated sugar.

Share these with a friend and a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Vanilla Shortbread Wedges

NOTE:  These make very thick cookies.  You can split the dough in half and use two cake pans.  Shorten your cooking time to 35-40 minutes (watch carefully).  You can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters.  If you use cookie cutters, place the dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  Baking cold cookies will help them maintain their shape.

ENJOY!!

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Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

If you’ve never made biscuits before, I have to tell you, there is something very satisfying about digging your hands into dough and creating flaky goodness in just a few minutes.

This is a very basic buttermilk recipe and there are many ways to play with it. You can make herb biscuits – stir minced fresh herbs or a pinch of dried herbs into the flour before you add the butter. After you add the butter you can add small dices of your favorite cheese or add ham chunks, minced green chiles, orange zest – whatever you want! Let your imagination run free! Doesn’t get any better than that, does it? 🙂

Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBS baking powder
6 TBS unsalted butter, very cold *
1 cup buttermilk

* One very important tip: the butter for your biscuits should be cold! Very, very cold. Cut the butter into small pieces, put them on a small plate or in a small bowl and put it in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a food processor. Add your ice-cold butter and pulse a few times. You want some pieces to be reduced to flakes and others to be pebbly and about the size of peas. Don’t over work the dough at this step. The water in the butter turns to steam in the oven and puffs the biscuits to give you those light flaky layers! YUMM!

Mix the cold buttermilk into the dough with a fork. If it seems dry, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be a fairly wet dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat it into a circle about 1/2-inch thick. Do NOT roll the dough. This will over work the gluten in the biscuit and make it tough. Fold the dough over several times, gently pressing down to about 1 inch thickness.

Cut the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can always use a knife and cut the biscuits into squares. You could get really crazy and use different shape cut outs too!

For soft-sided biscuits, place the biscuits with their edges together on the baking sheet. These biscuits tend to rise more (plus I like them better!) For crusty biscuits, put them about an inch apart, so the heat can circulate around them.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Don’t overbake!

And you can freeze the biscuits before they’re baked! After you cut them, put the circles (or squares) on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer. As soon as the dough is frozen, pack them in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Then, when you’re ready for hot, flakey buttermilk biscuits, pull out what you need and bake them! Put them frozen straight onto a baking sheet and bake about 18-20 minutes at 450 degrees.

See, great bread doesn’t have to be hard! Besides, if you make sausage gravy to go with these biscuits, you have an amazing Sunday breakfast!

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