Shortbread

Shortbread, an invention of the Scots, is now world famous and rightly sol This rich, crisp biscuit is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve – called Hogmanay in Scotland – with a glass of whisky. But it is equally good served at any time of the-year with tea or coffee.

Shortbread is often formed into shapes in special shortbread moulds. These are made of wood and have a thistle pattern on the bottom, which leaves an imprint on the shortbread when it is turned out. If a mould is not available, shortbread may be shaped on a baking sheet.

6-

8 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter

8 oz. flour

4 oz. rice flour

4 oz. plus

1 tablespoon castor sugar

Using the teaspoon of butter, grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

Sift the flour and rice flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir in the 4 ounces of sugar. Add the remaining butter and cut it into small pieces with a knife. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Knead the mixture gently until it forms a smooth dough. Turn the dough out on to a floured board and divide the dough in half. Form each piece into a circle about 5-inch thick and 6-inches in diameter. Transfer the dough circles on to the baking sheet, crimping the edges with your fingertips. Prick the top of the dough with a fork. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the dough for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake the shortbread for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to cool 300°C (Gas Mark 2, 150°C) and continue to bake the shortbread for a further 30 to 40 minutes or until it is crisp and lightly browned.

Remove the sheet from the oven and, with a knife, cut the circles into triangles. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the triangles.

Transfer the shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight tin.

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