Vanilla shortbreads

Shortbreads are such a classic. Mind you, this is not a strictly accurate Scottish shortbread recipe, but it is my best (or at least my family’s favourite) shortbread recipe that I’ve perfected over time. I’ve been using this for several years now and I now have the recipe lodged in my head. I think I could make these blindfolded.

These a little extra-special thanks to a couple of tricks: firstly I always replace a portion of the flour with ground almonds and secondly I use icing sugar – not flour – to dust the rolling surface and rolling pin. They don’t sound much but I think they make a big difference.

Notes
  • Makes about 20 mid-sized biccies
  • Sometimes I add a half pack of chocolate drops to the mix – makes a nice change!
Equipment
  • Large baking (or two small) tray
  • Spatula for lifting
  • Bowls
  • Cutter
  • Rolling pin
  • Cooling rack
Ingredients
  • Ground almonds – 30g
  • Plain flour – 145g
  • Caster sugar, preferably unrefined – 65g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 110g
  • Vanilla bean paste – 1 teaspoon or 1/2 a pod of vanilla seed
  • Icing sugar – a little for dusting
Method
  • Line the baking tray
  • Weigh out and mix all the ingredients together. You will not need extra milk or water for binding, as the graound almonds help to make the dough soft enough
  • Flatten out to a disc shape and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes or the fridge for 15
  • Put your oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  • Lightly dust your surface and rolling pin with a little icing sugar
  • Roll out the dough to about 4mm (2/8ths of an inch) thick
  • Press out carefully with the cutters and use a spatula to move the shortbreads to the baking tray – they are quite squashy and I tend to dent them if I try to move by hand
  • Keep re-rolling the dough and cutting out shortbreads until all the dough is used
  • Sprinkle a little more icing sugar on to the top of each biscuit
  • Pop in the oven in the middle for 15 minutes – keep an eye on them as shortbreads should stay pale. They’ll be done when the edge of one or two of the biscuits starts to turn a light brown
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes on the baking tray before moving to a wire rack until they are thoroughly cold
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