Home' D Fine Redland Lifestyle Magazine : December 2009 Contents d'fine magazine December 8, 2009 21
with Michele Round
There is nothing better than a home baked
biscuit or cake. Chocolate éclairs from a left
bank Parisian bakery are the possible
exception. If there is no baker in your family you may
well have forgotten how delicious the simple, honest
flavours of butter, eggs, flour and sugar can be.
Nowhere does the integrity of the ingredient and
technique show up so well as in a perfect piece of
shortbread. This recipe comes from a Swedish girl
who, like many of her country-women, likes to bake
and does it particularly well. Trays of warm, spicy,
yeasty fruit rolls are demolished by children and
adults in no time flat; light, bite-sized lemon
madeleines are lucky to make it further than the
kitchen bench. Good intentions of rationing Tricia's
shortbread hearts over several days come to
nothing in the face of the pleasure to be had from
these crisp yet richly buttery morsels. Like a good
salted peanut, it is impossible to stop at one. But
then, as you can see, this shortbread is of modest
proportion, unlike the ubiquitous big biscuit of
Scottish style shortbread is usually pressed out
quite thickly and baked in a single round. It can be a
challenge to cook a large piece of shortbread to
perfect crunch level without over browning or
resorting to using ground rice.
This recipe works very well because the dough is
rolled out thinly, allowing the shortbread to cook to
perfection in just twelve minutes.The only advance
preparation required is to make vanilla sugar by
burying a vanilla pod, or parts thereof, in a container
of caster sugar. Do, however, warn unknowing
visitors or tradespeople who might be delving into
the sugar jar.Vanilla sugar can be used in most cakes
500ml plain flour
200g unsalted butter, brought to room
2 tbsp vanilla scented caster sugar
Extra caster sugar for coating
Preheat oven to 160C for fan-forced oven, 165C
for conventional. In a food processor mix the flour,
butter and vanilla sugar just until it forms a ball.You
can do this by hand by softening the butter and
then mixing in the sugar and flour with a knife
before bringing the dough together with your
hand. Chill in the fridge for about five minutes.
Roll out the shortbread on a flour lined sheet of
baking paper to 7mm thickness. Cut into shapes
using a biscuit cutter. Bake for 12 minutes or until
barely golden. Roll the shortbread in caster sugar
while they are still warm. Cool on a rack.
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