Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread

I do love shortbread, I think it’s mainly because I grew up with it, we would visit my Gran’s house and get shortbread for a snack but more so every New Year as this is the tradition in Scotland.

Through the ‘Taste of Scotland’ scheme that promotes authentic and innovative Scottish cooking, Scottish cuisine has enjoying a renaissance and now many believe that the best food in Britain is to be found north of the Border. The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.

Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”), or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.” However, these days as we see some amazing cookie cutter shapes, they can be cut into whatever you like. As it is the Winter Season here just now, I decided to go for some lovely Snowflake Designs.

From memory when my Gran’s used to make Shortbread, the rule of thumb is always 3,2,1, 3 parts Flour to 2 parts Butter to 1 part sugar. Stick with this and you can’t go wrong.


Makes about 10-12 Shortbreads

115g Plain Flour

55g Rice Flour

115g Butter

55g Sugar (Caster or Icing) – (Extra Sugar to finish)

  1. Pre heat your oven to 150 deg C Fan.
  2. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, sift in the flours.
  3. Mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then tip onto a floured surface and work by hand to bring the dough together.
  4. Gently roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness, if using a cutter, cut into your designs and lay onto a greaseproof baking tray. If creating petticoats, press into a round baking tin, or fingers, press into a rectangle baking tin. Now refrigerate for about 20 minutes, this helps the biscuits to stop spreading when being baked. Prick the shortbread with a fork and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and while still hot sprinkle with some sugar to finish. Allow to cool.


Toffee and Chocolate Shortbread with Pecans

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Having my breakfast this morning and sitting looking at the very wet and windy weather through the window, my thoughts were of feeling cosy and warm this afternoon, so I decided I wanted a nice bit of cake to go with my fresh warm coffee. Looking in my cupboards I saw Toffee Sauce and Chocolate and came up with this wee bit of delightful heaven. Cake, Coffee and a Comfy Couch on a rainy day, canny beat it!

Makes 15 squares

110g unsalted butter

105g Soft Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

130g All purpose Flour

Pinch salt

150g chocolate (dark or milk)

30g Pecans – chopped

 

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg.     20151114_102920

2. Line a 20cm baking tin with foil and grease.

3. Mix with an electric mixer the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth

4. Then mix in the flour and salt and mix until combined but not too stiff.

5. Pour mixture into the baking tin and with a spatula evenly spread out. 20151114_100801

6. Place on middle shelf in oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

7. Meanwhile, chop up chocolate into small bits, and chop pecans too.

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8. Once base is ready, pour chocolate bits evenly over and put back into oven for 1-2 mins until melted, remove and spread evenly.

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9. Top with the pecans and allow to cool. Once cool put into fridge to set chocolate (approx 1 hour)

10. Cut into small squares and serve. YUMMY!

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I had some toffee sauce and decided to drizzle over squares which added extra flavour.

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