If it makes thing easier, work on the formula 9:6:3 and replace two parts of the flour with either ground almonds, ground rice or cornflour. This gives you a lighter, crumblier texture. But remember, even if your shortbread biscuits come out of the oven looking less than perfect, they will always taste fabulous: light, crumbly and buttery.
I suspect that shortbread purists despair of flavoured shortbreads, but while I love a plain shortbread, I do like ones with just a hint of citrus or spice. If you want to play around with the flavour, why not add a teaspoon of caraway seeds (like the shortbread made in the fairytale sounding town of Goosnargh in Lancashire, a biscuit which also includes ground coriander). You could also add a little lemon zest, rosemary or lavender flowers. Ground spices such as ginger or cinnamon also work well as well as a few chopped nuts such as pistachios.
Makes about 16 biscuits
Skill level: Easy
150g plain flour, sifted
75g cornflour, sifted
150g butter (at room temperature)
75g golden caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
a pinch of salt (only if using unsalted butter)
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 150C / Gas Mark 2.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
- Beat the butter with the sugar until well combined and the mixture is pale and smooth.
- Fold in the flour and mix until the dough comes together. If it is still too dry and crumbly then add a little more softened butter.
- Lightly flour a large piece of greaseproof paper and place the dough on one half of the paper. Fold over the other half of the paper and start to roll out the dough - I find it is easier to roll out this way. The dough needs to be about 5mm thick and not more than 1cm.
- Cut out the dough with your preferred pastry cutters.
- Carefully lift off the biscuits with a palette knife and place on the lined baking tray.
- You can use the excess dough to roll out more biscuits, but the second rolling means that the biscuits may be slightly tougher.
- Chill the biscuits for about one hour before cooking. They will take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
- Remove from the oven and lightly dredge with a little caster sugar while still warm.
- Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Serve with ice cream, syllabub, fresh summer fruits or just a nice cuppa tea!