Recipe from Waitrose Magazine, March 2019
I like to bake when I know there’ll be enough people around to eat whatever I’ve made and we have some carpenters doing some work in our house this week. This recipe looked very simple for something I’ve got a bit of a weakness for (must be because I’m half Scottish!) so I thought I’d give it a go.
Difficulty Rating- 1/5 it would actually be a really fun recipe to make with children.
1x mixing bowl
1x wooden spoon
1x 23x23cm square baking tin
For how many people? It makes 18 biscuits, so between 1 & 18 depending on how hungry you are…
Total time taken (according to the recipe)- 1 hour 20 minutes
Total time taken by me- 1 hour 25 minutes, including 30 minutes freezer time
Hands-on time (according to the recipe)- 20 minutes
Hands-on time taken by me (including ingredients prep)- 10 minutes
Oven time (according to the recipe)- 45 minutes- 1 hour
Oven time taken by me- 45 minutes
I took the butter out of the fridge at about midday and didn’t make the biscuits until the early evening so it was all very easy! Just combining the butter and sugar with the wooden spoon, sieve in the two flours and combine with your hands. Learning how to make pastry at school means that I automatically use the rubbing in method to do the latter.
I found pressing it into an ungreased, unlined cake tin quite strange, and using my hands to do so even stranger, but when I used the back of a spoon to smooth it as the recipe suggested it actually started to break up a bit and I had to use my hands again to fix it! I found cutting it into 18 fingers quite difficult as I’m useless at drawing straight lines with a knife (and the resulting wonky fingers is why you’ll see no picture here!) but I believe there are clever tools you can buy to make sure the lines are straight, or just grab a (clean!!) ruler or something to help you if you need them to look neat and have similar limitations to me.
I popped it in the freezer and pre-heated the oven then disappeared to get on with other things. After about half an hour the mixture was firm in the tin and I put them in the oven for 45 minutes. I forgot to sprinkle them with the extra sugar as my head wasn’t still in baking mode by this point, but went over the lines again after 15 minutes and had no difficulty removing the fingers from the pan when they were cooled.
Any cheats or changes?
Not this time, the recipe was too simple to need any!
Any extra tips?
As I mentioned earlier, having something to hand to help keep the lines straight would be useful.
Anything you’d change for next time?
I might bake them for slightly longer, they were certainly softer than shop-bought shortbread but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I would only add the sugar at the end if I needed them to look pretty, I never enjoy the texture it adds and they don’t need any extra sweetness.
Serving Size- one or two biscuits with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream would be perfect.
The texture was very melty, they’re called shortbread for a reason after all! Using salted butter meant it mingled with the sugar to balance the sweetness just a little bit. As I mentioned, they were a little on the soft side so an extra 5-10 minutes in the oven might give a more satisfying crunch. I did not care that they were slightly wonky when I ate them!
Any comments from other people? My husband said they were slightly soft but other than that he really liked them.
Verdict– 4/5- an easy to follow recipe for a classic with fun suggestions of how to vary it in the future (adding orange zest or lavender) but not a showstopper or anything out of the ordinary.