Tag Archives: shortbread

Savoury shortbread with sun dried tomatoes and herbs

Go savoury with shortbread! And never look back…

 This is a copy of an article that I have released in WEEKEND NOTES this week. If you wish to read the original and discover plenty of week end ideas (to do and to share), follow the link.IMG_3874

 Ingredients list:

  • 200g of Spelt flour
  • 200g of butter
  • 50g of brown sugar
  • 100g of oats or oatmeal
  • 3 or 4 sundried tomatoes
  • a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme
  • Pinch of salt

Cut up the sun dried tomatoes. Wash and chop the herbs.

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Add the sun dried tomatoes towards the end so they don’t get minced up.

This will make up a soft dough that you need to roll into a log and wrap in cling-film. Leave to stiffen up in the refrigerator for ½ hour.

Cut the log into thick slices and bake on ovenproof paper, rather than directly over a metal tray so the biscuits do not burn too quickly.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes at 180° Celsius.

This recipe will yield about 20 deliciously savoury biscuits, perfect to eat with cheese or as a snack. Their texture is that of a shortbread: crumbly and melting at once. Of course the combinations of herbs and flavours are endless and once you have mastered this combination you could try: black olives and thyme, dried fig and tarragon or crushed almond and paprika… I took a basket of these to a party lately and they fitted very nicely on the aperitif buffet.

Nutrition notes: I advise to use spelt rather than wheat flour in those shortbreads because spelt gives a nutty, savoury taste to biscuits but also because spelt contains less gluten than  normal flour and is easier on your digestive tract.

Picnic ready

Picnic ready

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Phyllida’s shortbread

Phyllida's shortbread

Today I give you another version of the iconic shortbread. My favourite biscuit. The ingredients are the same as in my original post but this makes a single shortbread rather than a batch of it and I quite like the quaint wheel design so here it goes!

Ingredients list:
Flour 100g
Caster sugar 50g
Fine semolina (or rice flour) 50g
Butter 100g
salt
scraped vanilla pod

Mix it all up until you get a ball. Lay it on oven-paper and shape it and mark it as you like!

In the oven at 170 for about 20 minutes- take it out before it colours!

With thanks to Phyllida and Eleonor for the many batches they have done for us… It tastes strangely better when I don’t have to make it 🙂

Union Jack vanilla shortbread and berries layered cake

Union jack cake

This is a perfect spring celebratory cake and the flag theme was easy to sort out and very fitting for the Diamond Jubilee. Do not feel daunted: this is dead simple and much quicker to put together than it looks- Remember, I feel the same : life is too short to cook complicated… But I like the applause so keep it quiet…

Vanilla shortbread and berries layered cake


Ingredients for the shortbread circles :

  • Salted butter 500g (best quality! Expensive will do)
  • Caster sugar 200g
  • Vanilla pod
  • Light flour (type 00) 500g

-I like using a mix of Spelt and wheat flour but ordinary cake flour will do too.

Slice the vanilla pod in two and scrape the inside on one half with a blunt knife. Mix all the ingredients in a mixer until they form a ball. Roll it and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for ½ hour.

Preheat the over to 170.

Divide the dough in three equal parts. Using a rolling pin, prepare each circle on a piece of greaseproof paper and cut them out with the help of a template such as a cake tin or a round tin base. They should be roughly of the same thickness and size. Roll them down to half a centimetre thickness so they hold their shape but are not too heavy when baked.

Put each circle on a different rack in the oven, trying to get the racks to fit in the lower half of the oven. I then select the fan or « rotisserie » icon so the air circulates around the rack and they cook evenly.

Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness. They should hardly colour or only around the edges. If you cook the dough too long, it will be brittle and difficult to work with. The circles are still soft when they come out and will harden as they cool. Reserve on a rack to cool down while your prepare the filling.

Ingredients for the filling :

  • Whipping cream 500ml
  • Caster sugar 100g
  • 2 Punnet of strawberries, one of bluberries and one of raspberries
  • Marzipan decorations

Whisk the cream with the sugar until it makes soft peaks. Reserve.

Rinse and cut the tail off the berries. Cut the strawberries in half.

Transfer carefully the first disk onto your chosen stand.

Spread some cream over the disk. Not too much so it does not get too soggy !

Make a first row of strawberries on the outside of the circle. Dispose the other berries randomly inside. Do the same process for the second circle. Stuff more strawberries around the sides if you can see gaps. Use up the raspberries for the inside of the cake.

For the top, the process is a little more design orientated:

Spread a generous layer of cream and start by making a large central cross with the strawberries, then arrange the blueberries into four corners to suggest the British flag.

Decorate with a crown made with marzipan- or not ! For mine, I used a silicone mould and painted  the crown with a bit of gold and red food colouring from Kitchen Squires.

We shared this for a neighbour’s Jubilee street party with a glass of Pimm’s, in a house decked out with more flags than the Britannia ! I am French and a republican and but I am all for a party and a cook off if there is one going on : Any excuse will do to bake and share, eat cake and raise a toast. God save THEIR queen.

Aga-book butter shortbread with bitter almond essence

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Ingredients list:
Butter 350g
Plain flour 350g
Semolina or rice flour 175g
Caster sugar 175g
A little muscovado sugar
A pinch of salt

Put everything together in a food processor and mix until the dough makes a ball. Press the dough into a shallow cake tin and bake in the Aga or very hot oven (220°) for 20 min – or until the edges are golden. Take out and make incisions in the hot dough so the cutting will be easier once it has cooled down.

These traditional scottish biscuits will keep for a few days in a tin and they are delicious with a cold glass of milk or a warming cup of tea.

For a personal twist, I had a few drops of bitter almond essence or orange peel into the mix.

This age-old recipe is taken from the Aga book my mother-in-law keeps in their country house. It reminds me of the old-fashioned books every kitchen had in the 80s with lurid colour photographs and no- nonsense family recipes. But then again, shortbread is a very retro biscuit. That’s part of the appeal…