Shortbread. When it comes to food, few things are more traditionally Scottish. I was looking for something to make for Burns night to follow the Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, & remembered a recipe I’d seen in Sabrina Ghayour’s fantastic ‘Persiana’ cookbook, where she made some shortbread with a twist. Really simple to make & fabulously tasty, they’re a great variation on the traditional recipe.
Makes around 20 biscuits
100g shelled pistachios
50g ground rice
250g plain flour
Zest of 2 lemons
One vanilla pod, split & seeds scraped out
100g icing sugar
½ tsp salt
200g softened unsalted butter
Caster sugar for dusting
Put the pistachios in a food processor & pulse them until they are broken down into small pieces – you don’t want them ground to dust, so take care with this step. An alternative would be to place in a plastic bag & whack them with a rolling pin a few times.
Into a large mixing bowl, sift the 2 flours, sugar & salt, & add the pistachios, lemon zest & vanilla seeds (you can substitute 2 tsp of vanilla bean paste for the vanilla seeds). Work the butter into the mixture, & after a few minutes you should have a dough you can form into a solid ball.
Roll the dough into a long log 4-5cm in diameter. Take a piece of cling film larger than the log, & place on your work surface. Place the log on the cling film, & wrap it tightly. Take the ends of the cling film, twist like sweet wrappers, then whilst holding the ends roll the log a few more times. This will help tighten up the cling film around the log of shortbread mixture. Place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 150 °C / 130 °C fan / gas mark 2. Line baking trays with baking parchment (you’ll probably need 2 trays). When the oven is heated, take the log out of the fridge, & using a sharp knife cut it into 1cm thick discs. Place these on the baking tray, leaving a 2cm gap between each round of shortbread (they expand slightly in the oven). Sprinkle the caster sugar over the top of the shortbread.
Bake the biscuits in the oven for around 20 minutes. You want the edges to go slightly golden, whilst the centre of the biscuits will remain roughly the same colour as before cooking. When done, take out & place on a wire rack to cool completely before eating.