Makes 36 medium sized hearts or fluted rounds of 7cm diameter
a 24cm diameter single tart cut into 16 slices
I simply adore shortbread. It is all about the butter and that lasting buttery memory. Apart from that I think it is probably one of the most versatile pastries for biscuit making there is and it is suitable to any occasion or feast from Christmas (which seems like yesterday!) right through to Valentine’s day. Stick to the traditional plain round disc, or play with flavours such as lavender, coffee, chocolate, rosemary, caramel and more and more.
Making the pastry is similar as to making any other pastry. I often use my food processor instead of my mixer. The butter and sugar mix will cream better in a mixer though I think.
Characteristically shortbread should always be pale to a very light golden colour hence the slightly lower baking temperature.
My new Lofra oven baked them perfectly!
You will need:
250g butter, unsalted
125g castor sugar
250g cake flour
125g corn flour
· 6 lavender flower heads, chopped
· 10g - 20g (30ml-60ml) coffee beans, freshly ground, depending on taste and strength of the bean
· 5ml vanilla essence
· 100g any nut, chopped, my favorites: pecan, pistachio, hazel, macadamia
· Chopped fragrant rose petals, a few drops of rose extract and Pistachio should make a wonderful biscuit
· Citrus zest to taste
Depending on the look: extra castor sugar to dredge or chocolate to dip
1. Pre-heat the oven on only when biscuits are chilling to 160°C.
2. Cream the butter on its own first till very light. Add the castor sugar slowly and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Sift together the flour, corn flour and salt. I do this 3-4 times to ensure that all are mixed in proper.
4. Add your flavour component to the butter mix first and mix well. Then add the dry ingredients. Rub or cut the pastry to form a soft dough that lightly can be pressed together in a loose-bottomed tart pan or in a ball if you are to be making shortbread thins or biscuits.
5. If making a whole round, simply press down, smooth and prick with a fork or some other funky sharp object - a toothpick could be that. Pre-cut the wedges. Bake for 45-60 minutes till crisp but still pale in colour. Cool, re-cut and dredge with castor sugar.
6. For biscuits or thins, flatten the dough and wrap in plastic film. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Lightly dust a cold surface, granite is super, and roll to a thickness of 5mm. Cut in shapes. Carefully transfer to a lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes before baking at 160 for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool a bit before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate, dredge, or dip with pleasure.
Photography and styling: Heléne Venter
Copy and styling: Kanya Hunt