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Traditional Shortbread

Shortbread is a biscuit which is rich in butter and usually served with tea. It originates from Scotland and is traditionally eaten during Christmas and the New Year for special occasions it is decorated with candied lemon or orange peel and slivered almonds. Shortbread is usually baked in a large round and served cut from the centre into triangles; it is a relic of the ancient New Year cakes that were symbols of the sun.

Image of Traditional Shortbread

250 g (8 oz) plain flour
125 g (4 oz) rice flour or ground rice
125 g (4 oz) caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
250 g (8 oz) unsalted butter


Makes: 8


1. Heat the oven to 150°C (300°F), Gas Mark 2.

2. Sift the two flours (or flour and rice), sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Soften the butter slightly, cut it up, and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingers. When the mixture starts to bind, gather it together with one hand into a ball. Knead it on a lightly floured board until it is a soft, smooth, and pliable dough.

3. Put a 20 cm (8 inch) flan ring on a greased baking sheet and put in the dough, pressing it out evenly with your knuckles to fit the ring. With the back of a knife, mark the shortbread into triangles. Prick right through to the baking sheet with a fork in a neat pattern. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before baking, to firm it up.

4. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until the shortbread is a pale biscuit colour but still soft. Remove the shortbread from the oven and leave to cool and shrink before removing the ring, then dust lightly with caster sugar. When cold, cut into triangles and store in an airtight container. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Cooking time: 45 minutes-1 hour

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