Gas station without pumps

2019 July 24

Shakespeare cookies

Tuesday night I tried making shortbread cookies to try out my Shakespeare cookie cutters, both the version 3 stamp and a 1-piece cookie cutter (version 4).

Back view of Version 3 (the cookie stamp) and Version 4 (the cookie cutter)

Front view of Version 3 (the stamp) and Version 4 (the cookie cutter).

I’m not quite ready to release the design on Thingiverse, as there are still a few problems.  One is that the handle is not aligned in any way—it is glued on with just a pair of flat surfaces without any alignment features.

This back view of the cookie cutter shows the handle, glued on with FlexEpox.

This closeup of the handle shows the lack of any alignment features.

I looked online for shortbread cookie recipes and found a lot of them.  The proportions of the ingredients were all fairly similar, with small fluctuations:

 1 cup butter
½ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
½ cup rice flour or cornstarch
1½ cup all-purpose flour

The biggest differences were in the ratio of the flours—the total flour-to-butter ratio was nearly always close to 2:1 but the rice flour or cornstarch varied from 0% to 33% of the flour, with 25% being the most frequent in the recipes I looked at.  Most recipes called for sifting the dry ingredients together—a useful precaution, as both the confectioner’s sugar and the cornstarch had lumps.  I used a little cornstarch to use up an old box, then made up the rest of the ½ cup with sweet rice flour.

The instructions for mixing the butter, sugar, and flour varied a lot (beating with a spoon, pastry blender, shaving frozen butter, mixer, …).  I opted for one of the simplest methods: softening the butter, beating it with a paddle in the mixer, then adding the sifted dry ingredients and beating the dough for a minute.

The dough came out very sticky, and I contemplated adding more flour, but decided in the end to just chill it in the refrigerator for an hour.

After chilling, the dough was firm enough to roll out between two sheets of parchment paper, but it softened quickly, so I rolled out half the dough while keeping the other half in the refrigerator.

The v3 cookie stamp was a complete failure, with the dough sticking to the whole face of the stamp.  Perhaps if I had used enough flour on the stamp, I could have reduced the problem, but eliminating it seems unlikely.

The v4 cookie cutter was more successful.  The first attempt resulted in a lot of dough getting stuck in the crevices of the cutter, but after cleaning that out and flouring the cutter more heavily on each cut, I managed to get some clean-cut cookies.  Because they were not close on the parchment, I transferred them with a spatula to a cookie sheet that was covered with another piece of baking parchment.

Temperatures for baking the shortbread in the recipes varied from 325°F to 375°F, with baking times from 12 minutes to 35 minutes (and the longer times were not necessarily for the lower temperatures).  On my wife’s advice I opted for the low-temperature end of the range (325°F).  At that temperature, the cookies took about 25 minutes to bake.  She says she does shortbread for even longer at 300°F.

Here are 4 good cookies, two of which are slightly overbaked (30 minutes instead of 25). Even the good cookies sometimes have trouble with the Bard’s right eye and the curl of hair next to it.

Here are three failed cookies. The one on the left has a divot on the top of the head, probably from transferring the cookie to the baking sheet. The top right cookie is missing the curl of hair by the Bard’s right eye—a fragile feature that often gets stuck in the cutter. The bottom right is missing part of the ruff, which broke off when transferring to the cooling rack.

I’ll probably make one more design iteration on the cookie cutter before releasing the design, with two changes:

  • opening up the space by the Bard’s right eye so that cookie dough does not get stuck there so much, and
  • adding some alignment features to the back and handle, so that the handle is more easily glued on.

1 Comment »

  1. […] The difference between version 4 and version 5 is mainly around the left eye (on the right in this photo). Version 4 had a lot of trouble with the dough getting stuck in the small regions there. (See prior post for cookies made with the V4 cutter.) […]

    Pingback by Shakespeare cookies v5 | Gas station without pumps — 2019 August 19 @ 14:59 | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: