Thursday, 9 May 2013

Recipe: Melt-in-the-mouth shortbread

Melt-in-the mouth shortbread with a lacework design, as made by EJ
Shortbread can vary, from being structured, with a crunch - topped with granulated sugar, to a velvety melting crumbly biscuit. There's nothing quite like buttery shortbread that melts-in-the-mouth - I'd go for that any day over the more crisp variety.

Using cornflour in your shortbread will give it that beautiful melting texture - it will also make the shortbread very fragile. For this recipe I've used approximately 50/50 cornflour and plain white flour. As usual, I've chilled the cut biscuits before baking to prevent them from over-spreading. I've stuck with a basic round biscuit, if you want to make shaped shortbread with defined edges, I'd leave out the cornflour (use 100% plain flour instead) and chill for longer - bear in mind that it's trickier to make butter-heavy biscuits which will keep a complex shape.

I've flooded these biscuits with royal icing and decorated with a lacework design, but they are just as good un-iced. This shortbread is so luxurious, it makes an excellent gift.

175g butter (soft at room temperature)
55g caster cugar
135g cornflour
140g plain flour

Makes approximately 10 x 9cm round biscuits

Line three baking trays with lightly oiled baking paper.

Cream the softened butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy.

Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and gently mix into a dough. Generously dust a clean surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 5mm. Using a 9cm round cutter, cut 10 biscuits. Try to avoid re-rolling the dough too many times.

Arrange the biscuits on the baking trays and chill for at least 20 minutes.

While the biscuits are chilling, pre-heat the oven to 150C (fan). Bake the shortbread for 16 minutes, or until just turning golden. If you have made smaller biscuits, reduce the cooking time and remove from the oven when they start to turn golden.

The biscuits will be fragile while they're still warm, leave them on the baking tray for a couple of minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you choose to ice the biscuits, wait until they're completely cool before doing this.


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