When thinking of treats to include with my homemade jam, I decided that shortbread was appropriate. Not only is it tasty on its own but it would be a nice platform for the jam.
I chose this recipe because of its simplicity. I wanted a recipe that used accessible ingredients and would come out right every time – a must when baking in bulk. I found the addition of almond extract very pleasant though it's more traditional and equally delicious without it.
Source: King Arthur Flour
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Lightly grease two round 9" cake pans or line them with parchment, and grease the parchment. (I prefer my shortbread in rectangles rather than wedges and used two 8" square baking pans. The resulting shortbread was a bit too thick for my taste. I will use a larger square or rectangular pan next time. Also, I found that using parchment paper worked very well for preventing the shortbread from sticking to the pan.)
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating until it comes together. If it absolutely won't come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.
Divide the dough in half, and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a heavy-bottomed glass.
Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes.
Bake the shortbread until it's a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.
Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.
Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it's cool, it won't cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.