60ggranulated sugar - caster sugar is preferred if you have access to it.
180gplain flour (all-purpose)
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Line one or two baking trays with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and cream for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed until pale and light. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through. Add in the vanilla extract and mix again.
Add in flour beat them together. Sift in the flour and add the salt then mix at low speed until they are combined and the dough starts to come together. The dough will look quite raggedy but you’ll know it's ready when it starts to clean the sides of the bowl and clumps in the middle.With your hands, squeeze the shortbread dough together into a mass. Shape it into a rough disc.
Roll out the shortbread dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a ½ cm (¼ inch) thick. Note: if the dough is too soft at this point then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or longer until it firms up slightly and makes it easier to roll out. Keep an eye on it as if the dough is too hard, it will crack when you try to roll it out.
Cut out cookie shapes and chill. Once the dough is rolled out, use a cookie cutter (I used a round one) to stamp out the cookies. Lay the cutouts onto the prepared baking tray. Bring together any scraps, re-roll and stamp out more cookies. And then, do it again if needs be. Just be aware that every time you re-form the dough, it will pull in the flour from the benchtop and hence may dry out the dough. Add a couple of drops of water to the dough if this happens. Try not to overwork the dough by kneading it. Just press it gently together each time.Once all the rounds are on the baking tray, use the tines of a fork to pierce holes into the top. This stops it bubbling up as much. You can make any pattern!
Now refrigerate the stamped cookies for 30 minutes minimum or until the cutouts have hardened. This means the butter has resolidified and will give you the best possible chance of the cookies retaining their shape in the oven.
Bake. Preheat the oven to 170°C (335°F) whilst the cutouts are chilling. Remove the cookies from the fridge, then bake for 10-12 mins or until just golden around the edges. Cool on the tray for ten minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.Option: Sprinkle the shortbread cookies with sugar as soon as you remove them from the oven when they are still hot.
Step-by-Step Photos: My blog post includes helpful step-by-step photos to help guide you through making this recipe.To store: The shortbread cookie dough itself can be made well in advance. Wrap very well with plastic wrap and store the dough for up to a week in the fridge. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container on the countertop for up to 5 days and in the fridge for up to one week.To freeze: Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe airtight container. Freeze the dough for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. To freeze baked shortbread cookies, store in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow cookies to come to room temperature before serving.TIP 1: Re-roll the dough. Once you've cut out the first round of cookies, make sure to bring the dough back together again with your hand, re-shape it then re-roll and cut out more cookies. I do this twice to get the maximum number of cookies from the dough.TIP 2: Flour your cookie cutters. When making the Shortbread Cookie Rounds, this stops the dough from sticking to them and avoids you having to peel the dough from the cutter, ruining the cookie shape.TIP 3: Refrigerate the cookie dough. Unless you what a tray of odd-shaped cookies that have spread all over the place, the dough needs to be chilled where stated in the recipe.TIP 4: Keep an eye on the bake time. Everyone's oven runs at a slightly different temperature. With such a short bake time, a minute or two, either way, will make a difference.Customise your shortbread. Mix-ins can include nuts, citrus zest, dried fruit, extract, spices, herbs or tea leaves, chocolate and confectionery.