Mum's Shortbread - with a Christmasy twist

Shortbread is one of my Mum's favourite recipes & mine too!  It's so buttery & delightful - it's the perfect bikkie to have with a cuppa.  It's always been a staple in the tins at my Mum & Nana's over Christmas & yet funnily enough I've only ever tried making it once...until now.  The first time I tried making it the dough was so crumbly it was really hard to work with but I assure you, my Mum's recipe for shortbread won't let you down.  If you follow the recipe to the letter, you won't have any problems with it being too crumbly.

Now, of course I will also share with you a couple of things that I discovered whilst making my shortbread today.  The first thing is, I would recommend chilling the shortbread dough for 10 minutes before you roll it out.  Chilling the dough will not only make the dough easier to work with, it will also prevent it from spreading once it's baked.  The second thing is, the dough is very soft & delicate & it doesn't like being handled too much.  So when you roll it out, just gently let the weight of the rolling pin flatten the dough out rather than applying any more force yourself.  Finally, try not to add too much flour to your board & on top of the dough as you roll it because it will end up drying the mixture out too much.  If you find the mixture does become too difficult to work with in between each batch of rolling & cutting into shapes, just put it back in the fridge for a few minutes to chill. 

Plain shortbread is always a winner, but since we are approaching Christmas (have I mentioned that I LOVE Christmas?! you may hear this a few more times from me yet...) I thought it would be nice to try a few different flavourings to spruce it up a bit for Christmas!  The three flavourings I have chosen are chopped glace ginger (you could also use crystallised ginger), chocolate chips & grated lemon rind.  I think chopped dried cranberries would also be nice & even chopped nuts like pistachios or walnuts.

One final thing before I get on to the very simple recipe!  Decide in advance what shape you would like your shortbread biscuits to be.  I faffed around a bit with the shortbread dough at the start & couldn't decide whether to cut it into fingers or use a biscuit cutter (I know, I know - what a dilema).  Needless to say the more I faffed about the harder the dough was to work with hence my advice to plan in advance & chill the mixture before rolling as well.  I finally decided on star shapes in keeping with the Christmas theme!

On to the recipe!


8 oz softened butter
4 oz sifted icing sugar
10 oz sifted plain flour
2 oz sifted cornflour

What to do...
  1. Heat your oven to 200C static or 180C fan bake.
  2. Soften your butter by using the Mary Berry method of chopping it into cubes, placing it in a bowl & covering it with luke warm water for 5-10 mins until it's soft enough to squeeze easily between your fingers.  Drain all the water off before using.
  3. While your butter is softening, prepare your biscuit trays by spraying some oil (or dabbing some) onto your trays & then covering them with some non-stick baking paper. 
  4. Sift icing sugar & add to butter.  Cream well by hand using a wooden spoon.
  5. Add in sifted flour & cornflour & mix well to combine.
  6. At this stage, add in any flavourings that you might like.  I divided my mixture into three as I wanted to try out a few different flavours.  But whatever you add, you will need to do the tough job of taste testing until you are happy with the amount of flavouring you've added! 
  7. Chill the mixture for 10-15 mins.
  8. Sprinkle a little flour on your bench or board as well as a little flour on the top of the dough to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.  Gently roll the shortbread dough out until it is around 1cm thick.  Cut into desired shapes & place on your tray.
  9. With a floured fork, gently indent holes into the top of each shortbread biscuit three times (ever wondered why shortbread has these holes?  It's to let the steam out of the biscuit which is given off by the butter as it cooks).
  10. Bake for around 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges.  Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before transferring the shortbread onto a wire cooling rack.
To make your shortbread look even more festive, once it has cooled from the oven shake a little sifted icing sugar over the top.  Enjoy with a nice cuppa!   


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