The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

World's most imprecise cookie recipe ever (from King Arthur!)

William Alexander's picture
William Alexander

World's most imprecise cookie recipe ever (from King Arthur!)

I was looking for a recipe for a shortbread cookie on which to pile some of the fresh berries now coming in. perfect. As I often do, I went to my King Arthur Flour Cookbook first, and was startled to find the following ingredient:

1-1/2 to 3 cups flour

What? A variance of 100%?! I mean, we all know that volumes of flour are inexact (which is why I prefer recipes using weight, not volume), but this makes my grandmother's recipes sound like nuclear physics by comparison! (BTW, here's what I ended up with, which turned out to be perfect)

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

You know if you called them up, they undoubtedly have a list of corrections - or could get you one.  It's not uncommon for the cookbook "editor" to miss a typo, or for one to be introduced when typesetting (which is usually done via software these days)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and they vary in the amount of flour.  Experiment to find the texture of cookie you're looking for.  Start testing with the extreems and then tweak to the desired result.

By the way, linking to a shortbread recipe with a yeast dough picture of bread above it, is rather misleading. A first time shortbread baking person would think it should look like the bread esp. since it is called "shortbread."

William Alexander's picture
William Alexander

I appreciate the comments on my post about King Arthur's surprising (to me, at least) impreciseness. I really just thought it was a bit funny that one of their recipes was so wildly imprecise. As a breadmaker, I'm used to quite a bit more precision ("68% hydration") . As for the experimentation suggestion, I'm (all too) well acquainted with that approach, having spent a year trying to perfect loaf of peasant bread, the subject of my memoir, 52 Loaves. But when I want to whip up a dessert in an hour, before the berries rot, trial-and-error is not really an option. In the event, I relied on my instinct and experience and ended up with a very satisfactory shortbread (and a kind note from King Arthur explaining the variance)

As for the "misleading" photograph, I belive you're referring to the header on my bread blog. It's not specific to the shortbread, which I did not photograph for the occasion.