No Christmas or New Year would be the same without these delightful buttery and crisp shortbread biscuits! Plus, they are extremely easy to make and have very few ingredients. They are not low in calories, but they make a delicious treat at special times of the year. This family recipe is a tried and true, and is based on the Be-Ro cookbook recipe.....a real cookery institution in the UK! Shortbread biscuits can be made in a variety of shapes, including being pressed in a decorative wooden Shortbread Mould; when they are made in a round and cut into triangles, they are called "Petticoat Tails" and are a traditional Scottish wedding biscuit. Whatever the shape you decide to use - I have given a few ideas in the recipe - the taste will remain the same.....meltingly light and buttery. These make ideal gifts, and as they are made with butter, they last for quite a while. Pack them up in an attractive box, tin or cellaphane bag and attach a tartan bow and a sprig of heather for a true Scottish feel to them! Happy Hogmanay!
- Mix the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, and then rub in the butter - as if you were making shortcrust pastry. Use the tips of your fingers and ensure that all the butter has been rubbed in -- it should resemble sand!
- Then start to knead the paste, pushing it together to form a smooth dough - the heat of your hands whilst kneading helps it form.
- Petticoat Tails:.
- Divide the shorbread dough into two equal parts and shape them into balls, then flatten them out into two rounds - using the heel of your hand, to about 7" in diameter and 1/4" thick.
- Mark the top into equal portions - triangular in shape, and then prick the tops all over with a fork - making patterns if you wish! Crimp the edges as you would a pie crust to make a decorative edge and place them onto a well greased baking tray or cookie sheet.
- (You can also use a greased and lined 7" or 8" fluted edged round sandwich/cake tin - preferably with a loose bottom for ease of taking the shortbread out. Press the dough into the tin and mark out as above).
- Shortbread fingers:.
- Roll out the shortbread dough, and shape into a rectangle, about 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Place onto a well greased baking tray or cookie sheet as before, and mark into "fingers" -- prick over with a fork again. You can also press the dough into an 8" square baking/sandwich/brownie tin - and then mark out the fingers as above.
- (Please Note: The fingers are always thicker than the petticoat tails and shortbread rounds).
- Shortbread Rounds:.
- Roll out the shortbread dough and using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut into rounds of about 2" to 3" in diameter, about 1/4" in thickness. Place them on a well greased baking tray or cookie sheet.
- Wooden Shortbread Mould:.
- You can also place the dough into a decorative wooden shortbread mould, before turning it out on to a greased baking tray. Traditional Scottish wooden moulds can be bought online and usually have a Thistle design with heavily fluted edges.
- Bake the any of the above shortbread biscuits in a pre-heated oven 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for between 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are pale and golden - but NOT brown!
- Sprinkle extra caster sugar over the top as soon as they come out of the oven if you wish.
- Allow the shorbread bicuits to cool slightly on a cooling rack, before cutting into fingers or "petticoat tails".
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight tin or container. NB: These will last for about 10 to 14 days in a cool, dry and dark pantry. They can also be frozen with great results!