The Cheese Grater Hack For Adding Crispy Shortbread To Any Bake

Crumbly, delicate and buttery – shortbread is one of the most satisfying desserts around. This traditional Scottish pastry is simple to make and only requires five ingredients: butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt, according to Bon Appétit. Basic shortbread has long been enjoyed as a holiday food but has become a decadent choice for an everyday treat. The perfect balance of soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture with a sweet, rich flavor is great on its own but is neutral enough to be the optimal canvas for adding other flavors or working into any bake.

What defines a great shortbread lies in one ingredient: butter, and a lot of it. A large amount of butter is what makes shortbread "short." The term "short," when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly. In general, butter adds richness, tenderness, and structure and the way butter is worked into a recipe defines the outcome of any bake, according to Food Network. For this reason, crispier shortbread is possible by using one kitchen tool that's likely already in your kitchen.

Ways to use shortbread in your next bake

The versatility of shortbread goes beyond traditional cookies. Shortbread can be used as a starting point for all kinds of bakes, according to King Arthur Baking. Whether that means topping it with nuts, chocolate, or jam, (like in this salted vanilla butterscotch shortbread bar recipe) flavoring it with lemon, hazelnut, or coconut, or a mix of both. In addition to the wealth of creative flavor combinations, shortbread is an excellent addition to other classic desserts.

As a base, shortbread is an ideal crust for desserts like tarts, pies or cheesecake. Prime examples of this can be seen in recipes like hazelnut banoffee tartlet or vanilla and honey shortbread pie. As a topping, shortbread can be crumbled over ice cream, cobblers or any dessert that needs an extra finishing crunch. However you choose to use shortbread, take your next bake one step further by adding a crisp, buttery shortbread using this cheese grater hack.

Use a cheese grater for crispy shortbread

The key to a crispy shortbread that you can add to any bake is a cheese grater. When it comes to traditional pastry dough, grating breaks the protein chains, which leads to extra tenderness. When considering shortbread dough specifically, Epicurious explains that the shreds of shortbread dough melt into each other, forming a pebbly surface and open-textured crumb. To understand why this works, look to a similar technique of cutting small pieces of very cold butter into dry flour. Those dry flour parts form the crust's flaky structure, while the buttery parts melt, leaving airy pockets and tenderness in their wake, according to Food Network.

To use this hack in your next bake, make the dough in advance and freeze it until ready to bake. Then use a cheese grater to shred the dough. Get inspired by the many ways shortbread can elevate classic desserts like this Meyer lemon raspberry swirl cheesecake or chocolate pear custard tart with an almond shortbread crust.