Shortbread is one of the simplest biscuits to make, yet it has a reputation for being difficult to make well and has become a luxury treat with many a tartan tin full being consumed at Christmas. It has possibly the shortest ingredients list, and simplest formula ever – One part sugar, two parts butter, three parts flour – just mix and bake.
Top tip: A friend of mine asked me how I make mine so round, how to avoid the mix flattening and spreading in the oven to an amorphous and overly thin blob…
Ingredients: (makes 36)
450g plain flour
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
- Pre-heat oven to 180c (fan oven)
- Sieve the flour and sugar into a large bowl, add the salt.
- Add the cubed butter, taken straight from the fridge.
- Work the butter into the dry ingredients by hand, initially it will form a breadcrumb texture then gradually form to a dough ball.
- It will initially be crumbly because there is no moisture to bind it, only the fat of the butter. Do not overwork the mix, as with most doughs – the less you handle it the better.
- As soon as it forms a loose ball, turn out to a floured surface and work gently. The texture will be slightly grainy because of the caster sugar.
- Flatten by hand, then with a rolling pin until 8-10mm thick.
- Use a pastry cutter to make rounds and transfer to a greased baking tray. Note: My round biscuits are a cheat – just bake in your mince pie tin and your biscuits will keep their shape in the oven.
- Once in the tin prick generously with a fork. This allows the mixture to swell and move slightly during the bake while keeping their shape and texture.
- Bake in the oven for 16-20 minutes until lightly golden and firm.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle generously with more caster sugar. Do this immediately and the steam from the baking will help the sugar to stick to the surface. Leave to stand in the tin for five minutes.
- Turn on to a wire tray to cool.