Tuesday, July 29, 2008

#66 Shortbread

I made these shortcakes to go with the Mangoes of the Sun dish, but make them any time you want. Greg, Lee and I polished the remaining ones off with mug-fulls of tea and even white wine (we were a bit pissed by then, though!). Make the biscuits any size you want – I used a fluted pastry cutter, but use whatever is at hand, or cut into fingers, or even to a plate sized bit. Traditionally, oats should be used, but the English way is to replace them with flour and corn flour to give the biscuits a delicate, crumbly texture

First, make a flour mixture made up of two parts plain flour to one part corn flour (or rice flour). Either make a big batch of this or make precisely nine ounces. I made just what I needed, though I think I’ll be making some more pretty soon. Mix in 3 ounces of cold, cubes butter and one of sugar (In other words, a ratio of 3:2:1, so you can actually use any amount you want!). Either use a mixer or the tips of your fingers to rub in the butter, and once the mixture is breadcrumb-like, bring it together and knead briefly to form a dough. It will seem too dry at first, but the heat of your hands will help it. Don’t over work the dough either – you want a crumbly biscuit, not a cookie. Roll out the mixture to your preferred thickness and cut into your preferred shape. Put on a baking tray and scatter with more sugar. Bake at 180°C until cooked, you must take them out before they stat to colour, so keep an eye out for the merest hint – the timing will depend on the shape and thickness of your shortbreads.

Lee with said shortcake and mangoes

FYI: Traditional Scottish shortbread goes back to around the Twelfth Century, and it is traditional in the Shetland Isles to break a giant shortbread over the head of the bride on the day of the wedding.

#66 Shortbread - 9/10. Wonderful, crumbly and tasty; and this was the first time I'd ever made them. You cannot but shortcakes like this no matter where you go - they are too crumbly and short to be packaged. You'd just end up with a packet of dust.