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Hailing from bonnie Scotland, shortbread is a classic sweet treat, perfect with afternoon tea and post-dinner coffees.
The buttery, crumbly texture of shortbread has been described as “short” since medieval times and these sweet biscuits commonly crop up in the baking calendar for afternoon teas, Christmas and Hogmanay. Being by no means traditional, I like to make them as a nod to Burns Night without going in for the full haggis, neeps and tatties.
And, while we’re on the subject of biscuits, shortbread is technically not a biscuit. Using similar tax efficiencies that saw Jaffa Cakes dodge tax to classify as a cake (and consequently keep the prices down at the tills), shortbread too has benefitted from a classification as a specialty item of flour confectionary, exempting the product from Value Added Tax.
Decpetively simple to make and versatile - throw in some chocolate chips, nuts, lavendar essence or zest to take your shortbread to the next level.
The only two rules I follow religiously for shortbread come from two bastions of British baking. Like Mary Berry I use ground rice to achieve that sought-after sandy quality, and when it comes to cooking times, I always err on the side of caution à la Delia Smith, preferring a pale golden colour to the deeper golden brown.
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"While we’re on the subject of biscuits, shortbread is technically not a biscuit."