It’s the time of year when in the U.K. the famous ‘The Great British Bake Off’ series starts on TV.
IT. IS .EPIC!
I am, like many thousands of viewers , completely addicted and it often inspires me to bake more than I usually would do. This is great as I can use it as excuse to try out new things or just bake for the hell of it! I am definitely not at all comparable to the wonderfully talented bakers on the programme and would not even think I have anywhere enough skills that are needed to execute some of the recipes shown. But who cares?! It’s an excuse to bake. The End! 🙂
I’m not much of a sweet tooth, but shortbread biscuits are my all time favourite! These biscuits particularly remind me of our family trips to Sri Lanka and India as they were the ones that our family abroad used to ask for. They are also easy to pack and last a long time so they were the perfect gifts. So I am so pleased that I can make them myself now and take my family my homemade shortbread rather than shop bought ones. Let’s hope they like them!
I personally love these as they are not oversweet like a lot of other biscuits and I love the texture and the yummy buttery taste. Yummmmmm! I think they are the best British biscuits 🙂 The taste somehow gets better after a day or so and I love the way that this recipe makes the biscuits just melt in your mouth…oooo la la!
I came across a blog about the history of food and it quotes:
The history of shortbread goes back to at least the 12th century and originally started life as ‘biscuit bread’; biscuits that were made from left-over bread dough that was sometimes sweetened and dried out in the oven to form a hard, dry rusk. This practise took place over the whole of the British Isles, not just Scotland.
Over time the leavening was lost and exchanged for butter, making it an expensive fancy treat that was only bought for celebrations such as Christmas and Hogsmanay (Scottish New Year). There are similar ‘breads’ outside of Scotland such as Shrewsbury cakes and Goosnagh cakes.
The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry should be. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.
I found this quite fascinating and loved the history behind this delicious treat. Apparently the name “petticoat tails” comes from the term petticoat tallies – the name of the triangular pattern used to make bell hoop petticoats like Elizabeth I would have worn.
Well this is an easy recipe (please believe me when I say it’s easy!) and I found the best recipe from Anna Olsen here. There are only a few steps but I have added a few extra photos to show you in a bit more detail and I thought it was especially important to show what the biscuit dough should look like. It was hard when reading Anna’s recipe what the consistency should be but after my first attempt I got the hang of it and I hope I have explained my version of Anna’s recipe in enough detail. Please do let me know if you give it a try!
Anna Olson’s recipe can be found in the link mentioned above, but here are my notes when I followed it. Please note that these are my personal changes to the ingredients and method and you may want to change according to your own preferences.
Notes on the ingredients (my changes/notes are in green)
- ¾ unsalted
- ½ I found the sweetness not quite enough. I used Tate & Lyle brand light brown soft sugar and used 3/4 cup. packed light brown sugar –
- 1 ¼ – I have used different brands of flour each time and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I needed more flour when I made it and I used 1.5 cups. plain flour
- ¼ I used 1/2 cup as the biscuits weren’t quite crisp enough for my liking and didn’t have the ‘snap’ factor I was looking for. I also used plain white rice flour – not the brown kind. brown rice flour –
- ½ tsp salt – This may be more salt than you may be used to, but make sure you do put in the whole 1/2 tsp as it makes all the difference!
Notes on the method:
1. I set my oven to 140 degrees Celcius.
2. When whisking the butter and sugar, this is the kind of light fluffy consistency that Anna Olson mentions:
I whisked the butter and sugar for 6 minutes just to ensure everything is combined well. This whisking is what will hold the biscuit together and prevent too much crumbling.
3. After sifting in the dry ingredients, whisk them together with the butter mixture until crumbly. It should not be like a cake batter but more like a cookie dough. See my photo below for the texture you’re looking for. I needed to add more flour (see notes on ingredients above) as the texture wasn’t quite right for me when I used 1 ¼ cups.
4. Anna Olson asks for the biscuit to be baked for 1 hour but I found this a little too much so 50 minutes was enough for me.
These biscuits really do melt in the mouth and the smells the emanate from the oven when you are baking them are just divine! Thanks so much Anna and I hope I have done your recipe justice 🙂
If you try these out do let me know what you think in the comment box below 🙂
Thank you, S x