Shortbread is a classic British (Scottish to be precise) treat. Is it even possible to buy a packet that doesn’t have tartan or thistles decorating it?
Shortbread is one of the simplest biscuits that you can make but also one of the most delicious. The most straight-forward recipes only require three ingredients. It’s so versatile that it can be tailored to complement any dessert, you can add all sorts of things to it, spices, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit and the like. It’s also yummy on its own or with a cup of tea.
There are several different ways that you can modify the basic mixture to alter the texture of the finished biscuits but for authentic shortbread you must only ever use butter, you simply won’t get the same rich flavour otherwise. A touch of cornflour will give a slightly melting finish whilst adding semolina or ground rice to the dough will add crunch and a little more bite.
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
120g plain flour
20g corn flour
Cream together the butter, sugar and salt. Stir in the finely chopped rosemary. Add the flour, corn flour and semolina and mix together to form a soft dough. You might find it easiest to get stuck in with your hands for this bit, but don’t be too rough with the dough.
Gently roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Try not to over-work the shortbread though as this will make it tough. Cut out your biscuit shapes and place them on a lightly greased baking tray or one lined with a silicone mat. Chill them for 15 minutes whilst the oven is pre-heating to 150°c. This will give the fat in the biscuits a chance to re-solidify a little and improves the texture of the finished article.
Bake the biscuits for around 30 minutes. They shouldn’t darken too much. Sprinkle them with a little sugar whilst they are still warm, before placing them on a wire rack to cool.
These will keep for several days stored in an airtight container and go really well with creamy, tangy desserts like lemon posset, syllabub or rhubarb fool.