My Favourite Shortbread

There’s nothing better than a piece of freshly baked shortbread with a cup of tea or coffee. I love baking shortbread. It’s a simple recipe but a delicious one. For my shortbread, you only need 4 ingredients plus any flavour additions. But the plain shortbread, liberally dusted with caster sugar is just perfect.

I bake my shortbread in a 23cm (9″) square loose bottomed tin like I use for my brownies and cookie bars, although if you prefer you can bake it in a circular tin of the same size! I cut it into 12 or 16 pieces depending on who they’re for or what occasion they are going to be used for.

My Favourite Shortbread Recipe.

Ingredients needed:

  • 250g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g rice flour or cornflour

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 150oC fan (160oC in a conventional oven)/ 325oF/ Gas 3.
  • Grease and line your tin with baking parchment.
  • Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together either in a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer until the mixture is creamy and fluffy.
  • Add in both types of flour to combine and bring together to form a dough.
  • If you are adding any flavours to your shortbread, then add them in now so they are combined well.
  • Press the dough carefully into the tin, ensuring the dough reaches all corners of the tin and that it is level. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork before putting into the pre-heated oven.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes approx. Watch out as shortbread can burn quickly!
  • When you take the shortbread out of the oven, give it 5 minutes or so to cool down and then cut it into the number of pieces you require. Keep it in the tin to cool down.
  • When completely cool, remove from the tin to a wire rack and sprinkle with lots of caster sugar.

There are lots of flavours you could add to the basic shortbread mixture to enhance it:

  • 100g chocolate chips (dark or milk) For orange chocolate shortbread, you could add the zest of an orange with the chocolate.
  • Cranberry and White Chocolate Shortbread: add 100g white chocolate chips and 75g dried cranberries
  • Stem Ginger Shortbread: add 75g chopped pieces of stem ginger and 1 tsp ground ginger.
  • Lemon Shortbread: add the grated zest of a lemon.
  • Chopping up your favourite chocolate bars such as salted Caramel Twix (I chop up two standard twin bars) These are one of my son’s favourites.
  • M&M Shortbread: use a sharing size pouch bag of the chocolate ones.

I’m sure there are lots of other shortbread flavours to discover, but these are the ones I love baking regularly. If you have any other flavour suffestions, then please do let me know.

My chocolate chip shortbread.

If you are short of time or don’t like baking yourself then we can provide Shortbread to order through our Facebook page or by contacting us via email. I know I will be sending a few boxes out in the next few weeks leading up to Christmas.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Giant Raspberry Jam Tart

The disastrous jam tart which Mr S described as looking like “a road accident!”

October 31st 2021.

You know when you have a great plan and it goes drastically wrong? That! One Sunday afternoon I had the oven on and thought about a pudding we could have for dessert. I’d only got one egg left after all my baking orders and was just about to head out to buy more. Then I realised that pastry only needed one egg and I had loads of jam to use up. The thought of a Viennese style Linzertorte appealed to me.

I made up a batch of cinnamon and lemon infused sweet shortcrust pastry in my food processor first. Then I wrapped the ball of dough in some cling film and chilled it in the fridge. I did this for about one hour but for some reason the dough was extremely difficult to work with.

My hands were feeling incredibly hot for some reason. I blame the menopause as they never usually feel like this, Or maybe I had not chilled the dough for long enough or maybe I’d not put enough flour in the recipe. I tried rolling the dough out into a circle to line the tin but sadly it kept sticking no matter how much flour was sprinkled onto the work top or onto my rolling pin! Then the dough kept breaking as I was rolling it out. This was so frustrating, I can tell you!

Eventually, I managed to line my 20cm (8″) diameter loose bottomed flan tin. I had originally wanted to use my bigger tin but I just couldn’t roll the dough out enough without it breaking. Also the more I ended up handling the dough, the more it broke. I couldn’t start again as I needed more eggs!

Finally the flan tin had a pastry lining! I had to do a lot of patching up, in fact I felt like I was plastering a wall rather than making a tart! When I had the lining in place, I got a sharp knife and trimmed the top of the pastry. I was tempted to crack open the wine there and then but I resisted!

The cinnamon pastry burned very quickly but left the jam filling really runny in the middle of the tart.

I noticed I wouldn’t have enough jam from just one jar to fill the insides of the tart tin, so I mixed two jars of seedless raspberry jam together and then spooned it into the tart case. There was just enough.

Now for the traditional Linzertorte Lattice pattern. To achieve this I had to roll out the remaining pastry in a rectangle shape and use a fluted pastry cutter wheel to cut strips of pastry. I didn’t have a fluted wheel so I tried with a pizza cutter. This should have been straightforward but it never is when you have pastry that won’t do what it should do! As I picked up the pastry strips they kept falling apart. The lattice pattern had to be abandoned. As it was Halloween I found a small pumpkin shaped cutter in my stash. Reluctantly, I managed to get a few pumpkin shapes cut out but even those looked rank!

We couldn’t have a traditional Linzertorte lattice pattern as the pastry kept breaking. So instead we had burnt pumpkins!

I put the tart into the oven at 160oc fan but it took so much longer to cook than expected. The jam in the middle was still far too runny even after about 40 minutes baking time. Considering the amount I’d used in the filling, I was not impressed. I took it out of the oven after the 40 minutes and admitted defeat.

After giving it some time to cool down I tried to remove the tart from the tin and thankfully it came out ok. I left it on the worktop to cool down completely before I even attempted to cut it up. It was far too late to even think about using it as a dessert and besides we were full up after dinner anyway.

The filling was still a little bit runny in the middle.

Later on, I tried to cut into the tart so I could put it in the fridge in a plastic box. Mr S came into the kitchen and said the tart “looked like a road accident!” He was right but he was lucky he didn’t end up wearing it!

I did taste a morsel and it actually wasn’t that bad. But not enough to want to eat a whole slice and to serve it up for dessert.

I was so embarrassed by this bake that I definitely won’t be sharing the recipe for this one. I wouldn’t want to publish a recipe which clearly was a big baking fail! One to work on for the future!

The “road accident” jam tart in all it’s glory!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lemon Polenta Cake

Lemon Polenta Cake: a wheat free/ gluten free cake which works perfectly well as a simple dessert or afternoon tea treat.

I had a packet of dried polenta sitting in the cupboard doing nothing. It’s not something I really cook with to be honest. I think I was going to cook a ragu type casserole to serve with it back in January or February and we ended up with something different.

I read somewhere that polenta is great for making gluten free cakes and goes perfectly with ground almonds. I love making gluten free cakes but it is great to try alternatives to the gluten free flour you can find out there. Hence the Lemon Polenta Cake. I had a few lemons which needed using up so this was a perfect way to add them into this simple, but scrumptious cake.

Please don’t be put off by this cake’s appearance. As cakes go, it is plain and boring to look at but appearances are deceptive. It also doesn’t rise very high or look that appealing. But I assure you as soon as you take a bite of this zesty treat, you will not be disappointed.

Not the most appealing looking cake but definitely a great tasting one.
View from the top: watch taking your cake out of the pan! Unlike me, who caught it on the side of the tin when I was in a hurry to get it out.
You could serve your cake with whipped cream, ice cream or creme fraiche.Cau
Or you could eat it straight out of the box as Mr S did yesterday when he came in from work hung

Here’s how to make the simple, yet delicious Lemon Polenta cake.

  • Serves 8
  • About 30 mins preparation time.
  • 45-50 minutes baking time.
  • Suitable for freezing (if it lasts that long!
  • Ingredients:
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar (175g for the cake, 25g for the lemon sugar syrup)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 75g dried polenta
  • 175g ground almonds
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice needed)
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • You will need a 22cm (9″) diameter round springform cake tin which has been greased and and the base lined with a baking parchment circle.
  • Preheat your oven to 150oC fan (160oC conventional/ 235oF or Gas 3). I baked my cake in a fan oven.
  • Cream the butter and 175g of the caster sugar. Keep back 25g of it to make a sugar syrup later on.
  • Add the eggs, one by one and whisk carefully after each addition.
  • Fold in the polenta and almonds using a large metal spoon.
  • Fold in the zest of the two lemons and the baking powder.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin. Smooth the surface of the cake to make it level.
  • Bake the cake for approx 45-50 minutes. As mentioned before, it doesn’t rise much but it will spring back when it’s done.
  • Leave the cake to cool down in the tin for about 10 minutes or so.
  • While the cake is cooling, you can make a syrup to drizzle on top of the cake. Put the juice from the two lemons you have already used the zest from in a saucepan, along with the remaining 25g of caster sugar. Heat this up on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn the cake out onto a cake rack and prick holes in the top of the cake. Gently spoon the lemon sugar syrup onto the top of the cake so it pours down the holes and soaks into the sponge.
  • Serve the cake on its own or with ice cream, cream or creme fraiche. We enjoyed it with whipped cream and it was heavenly.

If you don’t fancy making this cake with lemons, then I think that it would work well making it with other citrus fruit such as oranges or limes.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx