Shortbread Biscuits Recipe
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 March 2016
This month Carol Kearns of Wymondham, tells us how to make her all time favourite biscuit
Shortbread is my all time favourite - although it only featured fourth on the list of the nation’s favourite biscuits back in 2015. (If you’re interested, it was pipped to the top slot by chocolate digestives, chocolate oaty biscuits and custard creams.) While I like the shortbread thins that you can buy, my first love is the thick home-baked variety with its melt-in-the mouth texture and rich buttery taste.
In my opinion, cornflour is the essential ingredient for getting that perfect melt-in-the-mouth texture. However, if you prefer your shortbread just slightly crisper, use the same weight of semolina instead of the cornflour and press the biscuits slightly flatter - you will also need to reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes. Ground rice or rice flour produces the crispest shortbread of all.
Serve these delicious biscuits - perhaps dusted with the lightest sprinkling of icing sugar - with tea or coffee. They are also perfect with a simple bowl of summer fruit such as strawberries or cherries, both served with a splash of cream. Made with semolina, they add a great contrast in texture to desserts such as a mango fool, lemon posset or raspberry syllabub.
I sometimes like to decorate these biscuits to make them even more special. Try dipping one third of each biscuit in melted chocolate (place them to dry a bread board or similar so that the chocolate-covered portion hangs over the edge of the board). You just need 40g of chocolate to coat 16 biscuits. Even better, melt smaller quantities of chocolate and dip some of the biscuits in white chocolate and others in milk or plain (choose a flavoured chocolate bar for extra pizzazz). Decorated like this, they would make a lovely gift to give someone at Easter time.
50g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp almond extract
125g plain flour, sifted
50g cornflour, sifted
You will need:
1 baking sheet
Butter for greasing
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark five, and lightly grease the baking sheet with butter.
2 Beat the sugar, butter and almond extract together with a hand held electric mixer until light and fluffy. Use a spatula to periodically scrape the mixture from the side of the bowl back into the middle to ensure that all the mixture is well beaten.
3 Stir in the flour and cornflour with a wooden spoon. Work the mixture together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then bring it together with your hands, kneading it lightly.
5 Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Use your hands to roll them into a smooth ball and place on the baking sheet. Press the biscuits with the prongs of a fork, flattening them slightly.
6 Bake on the middle shelf for about 12-14 minutes. The shortbread is ready when it’s a very pale golden colour (to retain that melt-in-the-mouth texture it is important not to over-cook it).
7 Leave the biscuits to firm up on the baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
8 The plain biscuits will keep well in an airtight container. If you do dip them in chocolate they are best eaten within two to three days.
Carol Kearns is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. See more of her work at www.carolkearns.co.uk