Shortbread at Christmas feels warming – a nice old walk, a flask of chai with honey, and a homemade shortbread – perfect.
Ours got a little scorched (!) but the taste is crumbly and delicious. Add spices for extra flavour, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. The history of shortbread actually goes back as far as the 12th century. They were made from drying out remaining bread dough in the oven. Butter was later added by bakers, to make the bread 'short', then other ingredients were soon added. Caraway was particularly popular; Mary Queen of Scots was fond of them. Other extra ingredients included almonds and citrus fruits like this 18th century recipe from Mrs Frazer:
Take a peck of flour…beat and sift a pound of sugar; take orange-peel, citron, and blanched almonds, of each half a pound, cut in pretty long thin pieces: mix these well in the flour; then make a hole in the middle of the flour, put in three table-spoons of good yeast; then work it up, but not too much…roll out; prickle them on top, pinch them neat round the edges, and strew sugar, carraways, peel, and citron, on the top. Fire it…in a moderate oven.
6 ounces flour
4 ounces butter
2 ounces caster sugar
Preheat the oven to gas mark three/160 C. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir together until combined and then knead. Create a smooth, firm ball, then roll out on to a lightly foured surface at an inch/half an inch thick. Cut the mixture in fingers and prick each one three times with a fork. Place on a baking tray and bake until golden brown – approximately 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then sprinkle with caster sugar. ENJOY!
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