Taking the Biscuit – Almond Shortbread

You say that something or someone (really)

takes the biscuit when they have done

something that you find extremely annoying or surprising

Cambridge Dictionary

I am very partial to a biscuit, a digestive or two dipped in my tea and who does not like custard creams, which always remind me of the Church fêtes of my childhood, scrambling for the biscuits in the tea tent trying to avoid being left with the rich teas. As you get older your horizons widen and there are dark chocolate dipped ginger thins, brandy snaps filled with cream or a world of cookies in all their delicious variations.

Shortbread

My all-time favourite bought in biscuit has to be all butter shortbread, Walkers of Aberlour are one of Scotland’s biggest exporters with a turnover of over £100 million a year, their distinctive tartan packages are recognised all over the world, so someone else must like shortbread too. On the island of Anglesey, they bake a rich shortbread marked with or baked in scallop shells called Teisennau Berffro or James Cakes. In American recipes, the shortbread is often whipped up and piped while the crumblier traditional recipes gently rolled and cut.

Traditional shortbread is made from only three ingredients flour, butter, and sugar in a 3:2:1 ratio. The type and quality of butter are important as the butter gives the shortbread flavour so I guess I am lucky to have wonderful Channel Islands butter to hand. Unsalted butter is fresher than salted ( which acts as a preservative ) and is my preference.

The following recipe includes almonds for a delicious flavour, which might anger shortbread purists and cornflour to maintain a light texture. So, should call this recipe shortbread or am I despicably taking the biscuit?  That is debatable but it certainly produces a crisp, dainty tea time treat.

Almond Shortbread   around 12 to 16 biscuits

100 gr Plain Flour

50 gr Ground Almonds

50 gr Cornflour

140 gr Salted or Unsalted Butter, diced and kept cold in the refrigerator until required

100 gr Caster Sugar, plus a little extra to dust

1 tablespoon Cold Water

1 teaspoon Almond Essence

Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160°C/ Gas mark 3. Place the flour, cornflour, and almonds in a food processor and add the butter. Blend together for a couple of minutes then add the sugar. Blend until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Then add water and almond essence, using the pulse setting combine the ingredients into a paste stopping as soon as the mixture binds together as to not overwork the dough.

Roll out a sheet of cling film onto your work surface and spoon on the paste in a line. Roll tightly in the cling film to make a sausage-shaped parcel, tying the ends. Refrigerate for at least an hour until hard. Take out from the refrigerator and slice using a sharp knife into three quarters of a centimeter-thick slice and place on a baking tray covered with either baking parchment or a silicon slip mat. Sprinkle with some extra caster sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes or until lightly golden. Once out of the oven allow the shortbread rounds to rest for 10 minutes.

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3 thoughts on “Taking the Biscuit – Almond Shortbread

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