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SHORTBREAD

1 1/4 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
3 Tablespoons cornstarch or oat flour
1/4 cup sugar (granulated)
pinch salt
1/2 cup (1/4 pound, 1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
additional sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.

Thoroughly combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into small pieces.
Butter should be very cold, straight from refrigerator or freezer.
In large bowl, work butter and dry ingredients together until
mixture is crumbly and no large lumps remain. This can be done
with the fingers, but work quickly so that warmth of hands does
not melt butter. (If butter begins to melt, place bowl in refrigerator
for several minutes, then continue. There is a special pastry tool
consisting of several parallel blades which can be used instead of
the fingers, but I don't know what it's called.) The mixture should
be somewhat the consistency of grated parmegian cheese.

Pour mixture into a round, ungreased pan, approximately 9 to 10
inches in diameter. A German spring-form pan works well. (If a pan
of larger or smaller area is used, adjust portions accordingly,
since the thickness affects the results.) Spread mixture evenly on
the bottom of pan. Using the palms of your hands, gently pack down
the mixture into an even layer of dough. Prick the dough in several
places with a fork. (This can best be done by laying one hand flat
on the surface of the dough, then inserting and withdrawing fork
tines between index and middle fingers. This helps prevent the
surface from crumbling when fork is withdrawn.)

Bake in 325 degree (F) oven for about 40 minutes, or until pale
golden brown. Remove from oven. While still hot, divide into wedges
with knife, but do not remove shortbread from pan. Optionally,
sprinkle surface with granulated sugar, to taste. When cool, dislodge
pieces from pan and store air-tight.

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