I love shortbread - it reminds me of my Gran - both for the shortbread she would often have in the house (bought from M&S - she didn't cook or make things herself - just made sure we all had a good sweet tooth developed!) and for all the coffee mornings she would take us to as kids. My Gran knew in detail all the best coffee mornings in Ayr and we got a good education in how to form a strategy for getting the most out of a jumble sale and how to nab the best cakes.
And shortbread is easy peasy to make and quick to cook - so you can whip up a tray of biscuits really quite easily and take the glory for what your guests will perceive as hours of hard work in the kitchen. You can make shortbread into the traditional round marked out for slices but I like to use lots of different cookie cutters instead. I have a cat, moon, teapot, airplane, butterfly, star, gingerbread man and loads more.
The recipe I use is taken from the Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book - a bible of cooking for our family if ever there was one.
225g/8oz unsalted butter, room temperature
125g/40z caster sugar
325g/12oz plain white flour, sifted
Put butter in a bowl and beat until soft
Mix in the sugar until creaming
Mix in the flour using hands if necessary. The mixture should be firm - like shortcrust pastry.
You can do each of the above stages in the food mixer if you like
Knead until smooth and free of cracks
If you have time, leave it to rest in the fridge for 15-30 mins
Use half the quantity to roll out to 1cm thickness and then use your cookie cutters to cut out your biscuits
With the second half, cut out more biscuits or roll out to a circle 1cm thick, flute the edges and mark with a knife into eight sections to make a shortbread round
Place your shortbread onto a greased baking sheet, pin prick on the surface to let the air out and stop bubbles forming
Bake for around 30 minutes until just lightly golden - to much cooking and the shortbread will turn bitter
When still warm dredge with caster sugar
This recipe is also good for making shortbread fancies to go with strawberries and ice cream.
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