As an aficionado of all sorts of baked goods it’s all to tempting to make (and eat) biscuits and cakes more often than I should. However, I usually reserve baking treats for times when I can share the delights (and the occasional disaster) with others. As my brother shares my passion for all things biscuity I decided to make some shortbread for when he visited for the day.
Now my Scottish grandmother told me that the basic flour/butter/sugar ratio goes a little something like this: 3 parts flour, 2 part butter to 1 part sugar. Now there are variations on this involving different amounts of plain flour, ground rice and cornflour. For my first attempt in about 15 years I decided to start off pure and simple with plain flour.
Also as a rule I am extremely strict about using butter as opposed to margarine in biscuits as I believe you can really taste the difference in quality between the two. This in my opinion is less apparent in cakes where I often use margarine as it is easier to work with (unless the recipe explicitely specifies otherwise or the cake is something like a victoria sandwich).
So to make a batch of shortbread that will not make an entirely ridiculous amount of shortbread that will take you weeks to eat you will need:
180g plain flour
120g butter + extra for greasing the baking trays
60g caster sugar
Switch the oven on to 180°C. Grease your baking trays or use silicone liners if you have them.
Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Sift in the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour. Use your (clean) hands to further work the ingredients together. If the mixture is very dry add a little more butter but be careful not to make a greasy ball of dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and put into the fridge for at least one hour. You might want to go diving in with your cutters, but trust me this makes all the difference and makes your dough way easier to work with.
Roll out on a floured surface. Tip for those of you that don’t usually bake: a glass bottle such as a wine bottle works just as well if you don’t have a rolling pin.
Use biscuit cutters (or cookie cutters if you’re that way inclined) to cut out your biscuits. Ball together the dough and roll out and cut repeatedly until you have used up the dough.
Bake the biscuits in the oven for about 10 minutes (up to 15 minutes if they aren’t ready). Keep an eye on the shortbread to make sure it doesn’t overcook. my oven was slightly too hot and it did affect the flavour of a few biscuits.
I think these go best with a plain old cup of tea, but they would also be delicious with vanilla ice cream and berries. Next time I bake these I’ll try a recipe with cornflour to compare.