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rich shortbread biscuits for parties or anytime snacks

  These tasty nibblies are equally great inclusions for finger-food parties, or lunch-box treats. They will keep fresh in an airtight container; sealed in foil they last even longer. Thickness of the dough determines the finished texture, so you can make them to suit your preference from chunky and soft, to thin and crisp.

150g plain flour
3 level Tbsps rice flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter or margarine
extra sugar for topping

Line a shallow baking dish or tray with baking paper, ensuring the paper comes up over the sides. TIP: when the ambient temperature is cool, leave the butter or margarine out for a while to soften slightly.

Method 1:
Mix or sift the flours together, then stir in the sugar. Cut the butter or margarine into small cubes, then proceed to rub it into the flour with the fingertips. Be thorough with this stage - you won't achieve the fine-breadcrumb consistency of pastry because of the higher-than-usual ratio of fat to flour. Just try to minimise any large lumps of pure fat. Once combined, form the dough into a ball and knead well until smooth. With the hand, press the dough into the base of the dish right to the edge, making sure it is of even thickness. Prick all over the top with a fork.

Method 2:
Mix or sift the flours together. Don't cut up the butter or margarine - leave it in a single lump. Place this in the centre of the flour and begin turning and squeezing. The idea is to eventually take up all of the dry ingredients, kneading as you go. The dough is ready when the texture feels and looks consistent throughout. Take the lump straight to the baking dish and press evenly over the base right to the sides. Prick all over the top with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes on 150°C fan-forced (170°C conventional). You are after a golden colour (as in the above picture), so if the top starts to brown, especially early in the cooking, reduce the temperature a little and bake a bit longer to compensate. Ours came out okay on the above settings and it was about 1.5 cm (3/8 inch) thick; but if you like your shortbread thinner, reduce the oven by about 5°C and cut the time down as well. The longer shortbread cooks on a lower temperature, the crisper it will be without burning.

Allow to cool just a bit, then cut into desired shapes and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 20 or more.

Click this Click for PDF file image to view or print recipe.

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