Day 25: Heavenly, Buttery Shortbread

I must say, it’s terrific fun to try so many new recipes.

At this time of year, I’m thinking of what end-of-year gesture I can make to colleagues.  The idea of baking some cakes and biscuits for everyone to share is the most appealing – it’s fun for me, enjoyable for them, and does away with the overly-commercial (and superficial) pressure to buy and give a zillion unwanted gifts.

Isabella Beeton provides a simple recipe for shortbread (see bottom of page).  I’ve never thought of making this before (I mean, doesn’t it just come in a Walker’s box?).  But, as it’s so tastily festive, I added it to my little list of goodies to bake this weekend (I’m going on holiday after this week).

Step 1: Cream the butter (by-the-by, have you ever noticed just how heavenly the smell of butter really is?  Usually I use it at fridge temperature and in small quantities but, as a lot is required for shortbread, I found myself beating a larger-than-usual quantity.  The scent is creamy, sweet paradise.

Step 2: Gradually incorporate the flour and other ingredients.  Isabella describes the result as a ‘paste’, but I ended up with a clingy, crumbly mixture.  Unfortunately I don’t have kitchen scales, so measurements were converted into cups (1 cup of flour = 120 grams and so on…).   However, the mixture stuck together when I pressed it into a square tray and pricked it all over before baking.

Step 3: Slide the tray into the oven and drool in anticipation for 25 minutes.  The recipe calls for ‘a good oven’ temperature; so I opted for 190 °C, which worked out just fine.

Despite nearly winding myself and losing an eye when cracking open the almonds (I bought them market-fresh, then crushed them in a pestle-and-mortar – those hardy shells make for determined missiles if cracked too energetically), all-in-all this was a supremely simple recipe to follow.

The shortbread, once it had cooled down, was really delicious – delicately buttery and crumble-creamily–in-your-mouth in texture.  It  was, perhaps, slightly under-sweet for modern tastes, so next time I’d probably add an extra spoon or two of sugar.  Otherwise, absolutely perfect.

Heaven.

Scotch Shortbread Recipe: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html (Recipe 1780)

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