I don’t know many recipes by heart. Not even the apple pie that I find myself making more than enough times a year. I’ve got key lime pie and this shortbread, and that’s about it.
But does it count if you don’t technically need a recipe? Or measuring cups? Or really even a pan? Because if you’ve got flour, oil, powdered sugar, a flat baking surface, and a working oven, you’ve got shortbread. The end.
I feel as if I’ve done a fair bit of moving and traveling in the past year, enough so that I’ve found myself in a number of kitchens that were woefully understocked, either in ingredients, utensils, or both. Which is how this shortbread even came about, striking as inspiration when I found myself alone in a town in Bulgaria for a week with nothing but flour, sugar, oil, and a tiny oven (that I would later go on to break by setting on fire, but that’s another story). There’s no measuring required, which is why it works out so well for anyone who finds themselves abroad with nothing but a trendy little scale with which to measure. Just a cup or small bowl, any size, and you’re good to go.
The key to this recipe is the ratio. 3 parts flour, 1 part powdered sugar, and 1 part oil. It can be any kind of flour. Any variety of oil. Any sized measuring device. It doesn’t matter; you’ll still wind up with shortbread.
Shortbread that, it’s fair to say, isn’t exactly up the usual wholesome standard of recipes around here. But the oil, while plentiful, can be one with healthy fats. The flour can be whole grain. The sugar… well, there’s going to be a lot of sugar, and that’s that.
This shortbread was the first thing I made in the new house I moved into here in Chapel Hill. I had measuring cups. There were plenty of pans. The grocery store and an infinite supply of ingredients was just a short drive away. I could have made anything. But I’ve carried this recipe with me, and it’s one I’ve made countless times in countless kitchens in countless cities. So it only seemed right that I would bring it to this home too.