Read on for my recipe for orange and caraway shortbread
The 6th of January is officially National Shortbread Day. Now isn’t that wonderful, a day to celebrate that great biscuit of Scotland. Actually it is quite handy to have this celebratory day so early in January since so many people make shortbread for New Year here and you are very often gifted a tin of the stuff by your First Footers.
The history bit
Shortbread goes back centuries and is synonymous with Scotland. The first shortbread was really double baked bread dough (biscuit bread) which bears no resemblance to the sweet snack of today. The word biscuit means double baked, hence the famous Italian Biscotti. Anyway, enough of the Italian stuff, back to Scotland.
The yeast in the bread was eventually replaced by butter and developed into shortbread. This was an expensive luxury and kept for weddings, Christmas and of course New Year celebrations. Nowadays it is consumed with gusto all year round but I always remember my Mum making special batches for Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) every year.
Mary Queen of Scots was said to be particularly fond of the famous Petticoat Tails shortbread which is always made in a round shape and cut into triangles. This was meant to be taken from the patterns for ladies petticoats of the time. This type of shortbread contains caraway seeds so I have used them in my own recipe here as yet another nod to Scottish tradition.
Varieties of shortbread
Oh there are so many types of this tasty nibble. In fact in my book Simply Scottish Cakes and Bakes I have recipes for six different types from Petticoat Tails to the creamy Ayrshire variety.
You can find some of my own recipes here;
I wanted to make this a wee bit special today so not only have I used the traditional caraway seeds from the Petticoat Tails but I have added in a zesty orange glaze on top which adds punch to the flavour and elevates this simple biscuit to a real tea time treat.
Keep it simple
- 150g unsalted butter
- 70g golden caster sugar
- 150g plain flour
- 70g rice flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
For the glaze
- zest of half orange plus juice
- Icing sugar to make a glaze
- Mix the butter with sugar, salt and caraway seeds till you get a crumb like mixture
- Add the flours and form a dough
- Press this into a baking tin so it is approximately 1cm deep
- Leave in fridge for 30 minutes to set up
- Prick with a fork all over and mark out slices but don’t cut through
- Bake at 180C for approximately 30 minutes till just golden
- Cool in the tin
- Mix the orange zest and juice with enough icing sugar so that you have a glaze that is not anywhere near a proper icing but merely something that will set and flavour the shortbread.
So there you have it, my contribution to National Shortbread Day on 6th January. It goes so well with a nice cuppa in front of the fire. What do you mean it’s January and I’m meant to be on a diet? Hmmmmm maybe tomorrow…..
Orange and Caraway Shortbread
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 70 g golden caster sugar
- 150 g plain flour
- 70 g rice flour
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- pinch salt
- half orange zest and juice
- icing sugar
- Mix butter, salt, caraway seeds and sugar with fingers till you get crumbs
- Add the flours and bring together to form a dough
- Press into a baking tin and chill for 30 minutes in fridge
- Prick with a fork all over and mark out slices but don't cut right through
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes till lightly golden
- Cool in the baking tin
- Mix the orange juice and zest with icing sugar till you get a glaze and drizzle over warm shortbread
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