Musings and photos of my attempts to create edible food.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

All Butter Shortbread

December is now creeping past and it's time to do one of our usual Christmas treats. Shortbread is something that is just right for this time of year. A recent trip to Scotland has only heightened my seasonal desire for this traditional treat! Rather than just opting for the usual recipe, I decided to take a little longer over this one - and it has been a while in the baking: 8 kg of shortbread mix has been made to multiple recipes, 9 different flavours have been tested and different shapes have been baked. The winning four flavours are listed below, along with the best base recipe.

There are at least three ingredients in traditional shortbread and generally all in a fixed ratio. 1 part sugar (normally caster, sometimes icing), 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour. Its that last part that differs from recipe to recipe (according to whose 'Scottish grandmother' you ask). The flour part is generally subdivided into two parts plain flour and one part something else: semolina, ground rice, rice flour or corn flour. The test bakes with semolina and ground rice came out wonderfully crumbly but after a few chews left something reminiscent of eating biscuits on a sandy beach. I even tried using all plain flour but this came out more like a biscuit than shortbread!


  • 125g sugar 
  • 250g butter 
  • 250g plain flour 
  • 125g corn flour 
  • pinch of salt 
Plus choose one flavour:
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
    • Zest of one lemon
    • 3 tsp green tea, ground
    • 25g very fine milk chocolate (the sort used for making fancy hot chocolate) plus 50g dark cooking chocolate, chopped.

  1. Rub in the butter with the base ingredients. In my case I just put it all into the kenwood. 
  2. Once it reaches a fine powdery consistency add the flavouring and continue to work until it comes together as a nice dough.
  3. Roll out on a well floured surface to a thickness of 1/2 cm and cut into circles. If the dough is too stiff to roll, knead it for a few moments to help ease up the mix (you can even knead it in batches if its really stiff). The lazy alternative at this point is to roll a thick sausage of dough and slice it thinly but it is hard to get a perfectly round biscuit.
  4. Bake on a greaseproof sheet at 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until starting to colour. The mix will spread a little so give enough space between the rounds!
  5. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


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