I’m pretty sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but at work we have a serious habit of throwing a Bun Party at the drop of a hat. All birthdays are celebrated, with cake, nibbles and jolly singing. Sometimes however, on the occasion of someone going off to get married, have a baby, have an extra-large birthday – mine, for example 😉 or – God forbid – actually leaving, we tend to push the boat out with a rather grander event. Everyone has their speciality – I’m usually asked to bring one of my Plum cakes http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/up-side-down-plum-cake/ but that’s small beer compared to some of the creations that have been presented over the years..
It was at one such event, that I came across Lorna’s Shortbread; or rather, her sister’s shortbread. As soon as I’d had my 3rd piece – nothing like a good bit of research, I always say – I asked her for the recipe.
The recipe has proper butter, but also that old baking ingredient – Stork margarine. I’ve tried this recipe both with and without the Stork, and it’s better with it. It’s not an ingredient that you’ll often see on this site, but these dreamy little biscuits are worth it. The pictures here show some rather Christmassy decorations, but of course you can do some that are more season-appropriate as you go through the year..
Have a go – they’re easy and delicious. This is a rather large recipe, but it can easily be halved. Having said that, they’re very moreish – so you have been warned!
- Mixer with a dough attachment – (you could of course do this by hand, but it would be rather hard work)
- large baking tray
- baking parchment
- Selection of decorative stampers – totally optional.
- 350g/12oz Plain flour, sifted.
- 175g/6oz COLD unsalted butter, cubed
- 125g/4oz COLD Stork Margarine, cubed
- 75g/3oz caster sugar.
- Heat the oven to 180 fan
- Put all the ingredients into the mixer and mix until it forms a stiff dough. Start off with the mixer at a really low level, then just slightly speed it up, until everything is combined. Don’t over-process it.
- Line the baking tray with the baking parchment, and cut yourself another piece about 10cms wide.
- Take a spoonful of the dough, and roll it into a ball. If it’s any help, mine were about the size of a Ferrero Rocher sweet, and weighed somewhere between 10 and 15g. Don’t make them too small, as they tend to over-cook at the edges and become crumbly.
- Continue until you’ve filled the baking tray. They spread as they bake, so give them space. Keep any extra chilled until you’re ready to cook them.
- Using the second piece of parchment, and the back of a spoon, squash the balls down a little until they have a flat surface.
- If you fancy decorating them, now’s your chance. Don’t forget you could just use a fork, or a small pastry cutter, like my star one
- Put the tray into the oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. I would definitely check them after 10-12 minutes – you may need to turn the tray around to bake them evenly.
- Remove the tray and allow the biscuits to cool for at least 10 minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack.
- When fully cold, put them into an air-tight container, divided by layers of baking parchment.
- If you want the designs to last (some of mine didn’t) the stamp has to be pushed quite deeply into the dough before cooking
- This recipe works best if your ingredients are cold, so butter/Stork straight from the fridge please. If it gets warmed up and hard to handle, just chill it for 30 minutes.
- I imagine that, properly wrapped, these would freeze very well
- I’d like to try drizzling a fine line of melted chocolate over some undecorated ones, and of course they’d be ideal for icing.
- Try to keep the dough as cool as possible – if it heats up, it can become rather sticky and hard to deal with.
- I think that these would be a very acceptable gift at almost any time of year.
- I have a notion that a little fresh lemon (for Easter) or orange zest (for Christmas!) would be great in these too.
- Chilling the dough really helps with handing, but the dough doesn’t keep, so you must use it all up on the day you make it.