Whether you’re a pro at the pastry game or an amateur with no idea what you’re doing, there’s one thing that we can all agree on: shortbread cookies are delicious. They’re also easy to make, requiring just a few ingredients (butter, sugar, and flour).
But there’s one ingredient that many people skip when baking their own batch—cornstarch. You may wonder, “Why do you put cornstarch in shortbread?”
There are already three other ingredients involved in making these delicious treats. Well, I’m here to tell you that adding cornstarch to your recipe will help create the best shortbread cookies ever! Let’s find out why.
You may wonder why some people use cornstarch when making shortbread. The short answer is: cornstarch makes your shortbread cookies crispier!
Cornstarch is a finely ground powder made from corn. You can use it as a thickener and a binder in recipes.
When you use cornstarch as a thickener, it works by absorbing moisture and creating a gel-like consistency. This helps prevent ingredients from separating when heated.
For example, if you’re making gravy or a sauce, you would want to add some cornstarch to thicken it up.
Let’s go back to cornstarch in shortbread. It’s not so much about the cornstarch, but what it does when you mix it with butter and sugar. So, what exactly does cornstarch do to shortbread cookies?
First, let’s talk about texture. The addition of cornstarch keeps the shortbread from crumbling when you try to cut it into shapes or bite into it.
The cornstarch molecules help bind all those little crumbs together so that they don’t easily fall apart when handled or eaten. In addition, it gives them a nice consistency!
Shortbread is made with butter and flour, along with other ingredients such as sugar and vanilla extract (or other flavorings). As you might imagine, these ingredients become very hard when they’re baked at a high temperature.
That’s why cornstarch is important: It helps prevent moisture loss during baking. This is so that your finished product stays soft enough for eating without becoming brittle or falling apart.
Cornstarch helps keep the shortbread from becoming crumbly and prevents it from melting into an oily mess when baked at high temperatures.
Add just enough cornstarch so that when you mix it with butter and sugar, it makes a stiff yet soft dough that can be rolled out. This way, it won’t crumble apart into pieces that fall off your rolling pin.
The most important thing is that you get your dough rolled out nice and thin. This is so that it bakes up crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (like store-bought shortbread).
A good rule of thumb is to remove about two tablespoons of flour from each cup and replace them with roughly two teaspoons of cornstarch.
If the finished product is too dry for your liking, remove four tablespoons of flour and add two tablespoons of cornstarch. This results in a fuller texture and mouthfeel for the shortbread!
Yes, you can. You might think that cornstarch is the main ingredient in shortbread cookies, but it’s not! The main ingredients are butter, sugar, and flour. Some people use salt in their recipes.
You can make shortbread without cornstarch (and some recipes do), but adding a bit of cornstarch will make a big difference in your shortbread cookies!
Cornstarch helps keep your dough from getting too crumbly and dry so that it stays moist and tender when baked.
It also adds to the texture of your finished product by giving it an ever-so-slight crunch on top with a soft interior.
Shortbread is an easy dessert to make, but it can be tricky to get the right consistency. If you want perfect shortbread cookies every time, use some cornstarch!
It’s not just about the taste, but the consistency of your shortbread will depend on how much starch you use in your recipe and how much flour it replaces.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.