I adore shortbread. Far more than standard biscuits. Something to do with the mealy buttery nature of them I suspect. This is in the current issue of Donna Hay magazine and as soon as I saw them I knew I must bake them.
Donna Hay Magazine
- 150g butter
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- Beat the butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes until pale and creamy
- Add lemon juice, zest and vanilla
- Add the flour and cornflour and beat until a smooth dough forms
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces
- Roll into 2x20cm logs, wrap in cling film and freeze for 30 minutes
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Cut dough into 1cm thick rounds
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden
- Gently toss the warm shortbreads in the extra icing sugar, cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.
I’ve already told you of my love of Matthew Evans. This is another one of his recipes from Good Weekend. They are sensational. A luscious light texture and the spices add complexity. Next time I might even add a little lemon zest.
(Sorry, no pics, camera batteries are dead and I think the camera is still in the car and it’s freezing so there’s no way I’m going out there now. Just so you know.)
Matthew Evans, Good Weekend
- 125g butter, softened
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/3 cups plain flour
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 125g whole, unblanched almonds
- 35-40 (about 50g) whole unblanched almonds, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- In a food processor blitz the almonds until they’re fine but still crumbly – you don’t want it as fine as commercial almond meal – and set aside
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale*
- Add the egg
- Fold in the flour, spices, baking powder and salt
- Add the almonds
- Line two trays with baking paper and dot with about 1 tablespoon of mixture at regular intervals, leaving space for them to spread a little**
- Press an almond into the top of each one
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they start to tan up nicely (in my oven this took more like 12 minutes)
- Remove from the oven, cool well before storing.
* Because I’ve got a fancy pants processor with different sized bowls, I did the almonds in the small bowl then continued making the recipe using the processor in the bigger bowl
** Mine didn’t spread very much at all, but that could well be because I’d run out of baking powder and Mum’s was out of date…
So the first time I made these, which granted has been the only time but I’m so making them again because oh my they are good, the recipe is all wrong. Well, by ‘all wrong’ I mean not enough. But then maybe it was just me, however it’s the second recipe I’ve made from Apples for Jam and I’ve found both recipes need a bit of tweaking in terms of process or quantity rather than the outcome, which has always been delicious.
Anyway, I saw this prior to Christmas and it stayed in the forefront of my cooking (and eating) desires right through that festive season.
As you can see from the picture below, there was simply not enough shortbread dough to cover the entire tray – so in the recipe below I’ve doubled the original as this should do it.
In the original recipe Tessa Kiros says any jam can be used but a fig jam is particularly special. I happened to have a jar of Fig and Ginger Jam in the fridge (a gift to mum that she regifted to me) and indeed, it was special. But somehow I think it needs a red jam, just to look pretty against the buttery shortbread goodness that encases it.
Adapted from Apples for Jam
- 200g butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 400g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- a few drops vanilla
- about 200g of your favourite jam
- Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 30x40cm baking tray so there is a decent overhang (you’ll need this once it’s cooked to lift it out)
- Cream the butter and sugar by hand
- Add the flour and baking powder
- Add the eggs and vanilla and knead them until it is all compact and smooth
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll out
- Divide the dough in half and roll each half to about 2-3mm thickness on a lightly floured surface (I do this between two sheets of greaseproof paper because I can never get any form of pastry or dough off the surface in one neat piece otherwise. I then simply lift the piece up on the paper and invert it over the dish or tray it’s going into.)
- Spread over the jam then roll out the other half of the dough and place over the top
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the shortbread is turning golden
- Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes, then lift out using the baking paper as a lever
- Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or simple squares or diamonds, or indeed, just cut chunks off as you walk by.
It makes about 12-15 pieces and it will (apparently) keep for five to six days
So for the better part of the last 20 years I’ve been faithful to the Womens’ Weekly recipe for choc chip biscuits and they have done me proud. But an American friend of mine made some that just seemed better and she gave me the recipe. From what I can tell it is essentially the same recipe but in bigger quantities.
I made them and dotted a few Smarties on the top. And people, I might as well have invented choc chip biccies.
Choc Chip Biccies
- 1 cup butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 21/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups choc chips
- Smarties to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line baking trays with greaseproof paper
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition
- Add flour and baking powder
- Stir through choc chips
- Take heaped teaspoons of dough and place on baking trays, leaving a little distance between them as they’ll spread
- Press four Smarties into the dough
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned then cool for a few minutes on the tray before moving to a wire rack.
This makes a LOT of biscuits. The friend the recipe came from used to roll the dough into two logs and freeze one for a later date. She’d also then refrigerate the other one before cutting rounds and baking. But when you feel like biccies, who has time for refrigeration.
Nigella attributes these to Elinor Klivans and her book Big Fat Cookies, so technically this might not be a Nigella recipe, but you know, she has it in her latest cookbook Nigella Express so I’m taking it as legit.
These are not so much biscuits as saucers. It makes 12 chocolate plates or 24 biscuits.
Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 125g chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa
- 150g flour
- 30g cocoa
- 1tsp bicarb
- 1/2tsp salt
- 125g butter
- 75g light brown sugar
- 50g sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, cold from the fridge
- 350g semi-sweet chocolate morsels or dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 170C
- Melt the chocolate in a double saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave
- Mix the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt together
- Cream the butter and sugar together
- Fold in the chocolate and then add the egg and vanilla
- Mix through the dry ingredients and then the choc chips
- Using an icecream scoopp, scoop out 12 equal-sized mounds on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them
- Cook for 18 minutes and let cool for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
I used white chocolate chips as I didn’t have dark chocolate ones.