Cream 2 sticks room temperature butter with 1/2 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Gradually blend in about 2 cups unbleached flour until dough pulls together and is soft and smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a ball and cut in half. Pat each half into a buttered 9 inch pie pan until flat and even. With the tines of a fork score the edges all around. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until golden. As soon as you remove the pans from the oven, cut each into 12 wedges and poke the decorative holes with fork tines. Allow to cool. Can be stored in pans tightly wrapped for a few days at room temperature.
You can experiment with adding different extracts, zests, spices and nuts for a variety of flavors and textures. Or not. Either way, enjoy the buttery crunchiness of this lovely traditional shortbread!