Have you watched Ted Lasso yet? No? Have you had a great batch of shortbread lately? Also no? Well, it’s time to remedy both of those failings. You can stream the show on Apple TV+ for $4.99 a month. Our Jessica Toomer recently wrote of Ted Lasso:
…There’s an unapologetic optimism to the humor here – you’ll see slapstick spit-takes and snappy one-liners, but you’ll never see characters punching down for the sake of laughs – something we didn’t realize we were lacking in our workplace comedies until now.
As for the shortbread, the end of the year slowdown is the perfect time to try your hand at the comedy’s signature dessert. It fits with the season and you can eat as much as you want under the, “IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!!!” banner that justifies all bad eating until January 4th.
Ted Lasso started winning over his new boss, AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton, his first day on the job with a small pink box of shortbread “biscuits” (not the kind you put gravy on). The shortbread was a big hit. The tradition of Lasso bringing his boss shortbread carried on through the entire season, making it one of the best food moments in a year full of great TV food moments.
After it was revealed that Lasso was baking the shortbread himself, I knew immediately that I needed to try my hand at Ted Lasso’s shortbread. Thing is, I’ve never made shortbread and the show provides no recipe. I’ve eaten a fair bit, however. My wife is from Lancashire, in Northern England, and shortbread is a staple this time of year.
This is all to say: I wasn’t completely out of my depths.
After a little research, a rewatch of a few key scenes, and a trip to the grocery store, I decided to dive in. When it came to the recipe, I eschewed the usual forming of cookies pre-bake and went the Lasso way and made one giant cookie I cut up after it cooled. Other than that tweak, this is a pretty straightforward and easy-to-execute recipe for any beginner. And wow, these turned out to be pretty damn spectacular.
What You’ll Need in the Kitchen:
- Stand mixer or hand mixer*
- 12-in. x 9-in. baking pan
- Parchment paper
- Cutting board
*If you don’t have a stand mixer or hand mixer, you can use a wooden spoon but it’ll take a while.
Ted Lasso’s Shortbread “Biscuits”
- 400g/14-oz. all-purpose flour
- 100g/3.5-oz. fine or caster sugar
- 250g/8.8-oz. unsalted butter
- 10g/0.35-oz. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
To make these really pop and create a lustful reaction like this…
… I’m adding salt, vanilla, and lemon zest. I’m not using a lot of any of the three, but enough to add a little something to the base of butter, sugar, and flour. It’s that bump of flavor that hits a soft spot with anyone who loves sweets and will make these shortbreads stand out — and that’s the whole point.
Other than that, I got some quality butter — as that’s really the heart of this recipe. It’s super creamy, a little sour, and just a really solid butter all around.
First thing’s first: I preheat my oven to 325f/110c.
Next, I weigh my flour, salt, sugar, and butter. I put the weighed butter, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. I run the weighed flour through a sieve into a separate bowl and set it aside.
I place the mixing paddle on my stand mixer (alternatively, you can use the heavy whisks on a hand mixer or a wooden spoon) and start creaming the sugar into the butter. You want to have a pale and completely emulsified creamed butter mix. I use the medium setting on the mixer and it takes about two minutes to completely cream. You’ll have to stop a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
I add in the vanilla extract and lemon zest and hit it with the mixer paddle again for another minute or so until the flavors are mixed into the creamed butter and sugar.
Next, I add in all of the sifted flour and turn the mixer back on to a low setting and let it do its work. I stop about a minute in to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula before mixing on.
About a minute later, the mix is fully integrated, creating a sandy “dough” that just comes together in clumps when you pick it up between your fingers. It should look like the below:
I line my baking pan with some baking parchment paper, making sure to have more than enough to come over the sides.
Then I dump out the loose mix into the pan. I use the spatula to scrape out the excess mix holding onto the sides of the bowl. I then use the spatula to gently tamp down the mix into a solid mass. You don’t want to overdo this. You want t just bring the mix together into a semi-solid mass (as seen above).
I place the pan into the pre-heated oven and set a timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes is up, I rotate the pan 180 degrees and set the timer for another 15 minutes. These times will vary depending on the power of your oven. Generally speaking, expect to bake these from 25 to 35 minutes.
You want the edges to just be turning brown.
I remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. I immediately sprinkle fine white sugar over the top of the piping hot shortbread. I end up using about three big pinches. Next, I let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
After that rest, the shortbread should have fully set into one giant cookie. I gingerly pick up the shortbread with the long edges of the parchment paper and place the whole thing onto a cutting board.
I then use a long bread knife to slice little bars a la Ted Lasso — Lasso bars? I end up with 27 “biscuits” which is an awesome amount of shortbread to have on hand.
Wow, wow, wow.
I normally don’t dig on shortbread but these absolutely rule. It was a real “F*ck me!” moment, just like Rebecca’s reaction in the show (they also passed my wife’s taste test). Shortbread is usually bland-but-sugary and a bit too dry and crumbly. These are the opposite of that. They aren’t chewy by any stretch but just the right amount of sandy/crumbly while still holding a butteriness.
Texture wise, there’s a really solid crumb that’s light yet holds together. They’re buttery, salty, sugary, and have just the right dose of lemon and vanilla to help them really pop.
Seriously, look at that crumb!
Look at the adhered layer of sugar over the top!
I’m not going to lie, I ate three of these immediately.
I don’t have little pink confectionary boxes for the presentation. I did try and find some … but the lockdown and all that. Anyway, I use an old stollen tin for my storage/presentation. And … I have to put these away because I’d easily eat like ten right now.
Ted Lasso was already the surprise show of the year. Now it’s provided an unexpected culinary gift too!