Daily Mail Shortbread, 1922
I have made shortbread so many times using so many different combinations. This is among the best and so you need look no further. I do quite like using icing sugar, though it produces a denser texture. When at Leiths School of Food and Wine I seem to remember being told that the key is to achieve a light colour. This is not always the case, but all the same, this recipe is pretty failsafe.
In the words of Granny Dot:
‘Ingredients. – 6 oz. flour; 1 oz. of castor sugar; 4 oz. of margarine; pinch of salt.
Method. – Cream the margarine and sugar, work in the flour gradually, knead well.
Divide into 4 pieces, make each into a round cake with the hands, pinch the side into scallops with the thumb and first finger, prick the top with a fork, place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven about 1/2 hour. See the bottom does not burn.
2 oz. of ground rice and 4 oz. flour may be used in place of 6 oz. flour. Before baking place a piece of candied peel on each.’
(The Daily Mail Cookery Book, 1922, Mrs C. S. Peel)
6 oz. flour (I used 00 flour which is very fine and produces a lighter crumb)
1 oz. castor sugar, and more for sprinkling on top
4 oz. butter
1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the flour gradually, beating in after each addition so that it does not fly all over the place.
3. Squeeze the mixture into a paste and divide it in 4 (or however you like).
4. Put the paste on baking paper and sprinkle a little flour on top.
5. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and roll out the biscuits that way. I find it so much easier. If your paste is not too soft then you will not need to sprinkle flour on top of it before placing the sheet on top. If it is really soft, then wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for twenty minutes or so before rolling.
6. Form circles with a pastry cutter and scallop the edges with you thumb and index finger, or if you are tidier than me, you may not need to use the pastry cutter.
7. Now slide the baking sheet onto a baking tray and let them firm up in the fridge for twenty minutes or so.
8. Place in the oven at 160 degrees C for twenty minutes. Then turn the oven off and let them cool in there. This will help them to crisp up and to keep their pale colour.