Ever since living close to a biscuit factory in Edinburgh, I love the smell of shortbread! On certain days, a sweet buttery scent used to fill the air. Sometimes, a gang of us students would go to the factory shop and buy bags of broken biscuits for next to no money, then scoff them over several cups of tea!
One of the things I like about shortbread is that it makes a great gift. The biscuits look so pretty with their fork-prodded holes and their crumbly edges, which hold so much promise of buttery goodness. And packaged nicely, they can look very enticing indeed.
Scrumptious just as it is, shortbread also works really well with different flavours. And there’s no end to the options: chocolate, lemon, orange, thyme, poppy seed, lavender and cinnamon are just a few. I went with lemon and rosemary for this recipe, using fresh rosemary from the garden (the fresher, the better).
Shortbread is all about the formula – getting the correct ratio of sugar to butter to flour. There is, of course, no one formula. But I like to think that this one here is a fairly good one. If anything, it’s easy to remember – it’s 1:2:3. One part sugar to two butter to three flour (plus optional extras). Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my kids would say.
Another point in this recipe’s favour is that the dough requires little or no kneading. This suits me perfectly as it allows me to rustle up a batch without too much trouble, and worktops stay clean.
And even though some would say that kneading was absolutely necessary, I’d beg to differ. This recipe makes delicious, crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. Every bit as good as those from the factory shop in Edinburgh! Mmm, time to put the kettle on!
Lemon & rosemary shortbread
Makes: approx. 25-30
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Oven temperature: preheat to 175°C
Cake tin: any square, oblong or round tins
- 170 g sugar
- 350 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 450 g white flour
- 50 g cornflour
- 1 to 1.5 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary (maybe around two largish sprigs)
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
– Butter your tins (I used a few mini cake tins with removable bases).
– Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. With an electric mixer, this could take about 5 minutes.
– Strip the rosemary needles off the sprigs and chop them until very fine. Grate the lemon (I like to use a microplane for this), taking care not to grate any of the white pith.
– Add the rosemary, lemon zest, salt and sifted flour to the creamed butter/sugar and fold in until everything is combined and your dough comes together.
– Using your hand, gently move the dough around inside the bowl (kneading ever so lightly), gathering all the stray bits dough into the ball.
– Put the dough into your tin or divide between your tins and flatten with your fingers, palm of your hand and/or back of a spoon. The dough should be no more than half a centimetre thick.
– Prod all over with a fork.
– Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the shortbread has turned a light golden colour.
– Allow the shortbread to cool a bit before cutting. I wait till they’re just lukewarm, as they crumble too much at the edges if they’re too hot, and crack through if they’re too cold.
– If you use salted butter, reduce the salt from 1 teaspoon to a half a teaspoon.