Friday, 9 December 2011

Shortbread for the genealogically challenged

Have you ever noticed how if you bring up the subject of shortbread in a social situation (and lets face it, who hasn't?) everyone instantly claims to have the bestest, most original, perfect textured, age-old, genuine recipe. Then they yell at each other about how their recipe is superior because it was handed down through generations from their great great great great great great, three times removed step-aunt who was, in fact a Scottish mountaineer who lived in a stone cottage and ate nothing but haggis and that shortbread? Whatever.

Photo by Leslie, hand by me
This recipe is not one of those. It hasn't been handed down to or from anyone as far as I'm aware. I can't even remember where I got it. All I can tell you is that it's in my cook book, written by my own 12-year old hand and that it's excellent.

This recipe is seriously difficult to stuff up and you can pretty well make it in any format. Personally, I prefer to cut out shapes and sprinkle liberally with sugar to make them sparkly but it's also good pressed into two 18cm square/round cake tins. Just make sure you cut it before you bake it, otherwise it crumbles after it's cooked.

One cautionary note, it doesn't really work with gluten-free flour, it gets too short.

Basic Shortbread
2 tbsp rice flour or ground rice (I prefer the flour)
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 cups of plain flour
250g salted butter, cubed & cold

Oven @160c                                        2 x 18 cm round/square cake pans, greased with butter,        
                                                             or use cookie cutters & trays covered with baking paper                                                                          
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and then rub in the butter until the mixture is even.
Press together and then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Then either:
Press into the two pans and cut into wedges. Bake 30-35 minutes until lightly golden, do not over-bake.
Roll out to about 8mm thick between two sheets of baking paper and use a cookie cutter to cut dough into shapes. I like to press caster sugar onto the top but that's optional. Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly golden. Do not over-bake.

This recipe is quite nice with macadamia pieces, 2 tsp of lemon zest, or with one side dipped in chocolate but it has a beautiful flavour so I usually leave mine plain.

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