Very versatile shortbread biscuits

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Prep time:

Cook time:

Serves: 14

By Umami

2

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolk

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, (or replace with the zest of an orange/lemon if you prefer)

  • 180g caster sugar

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 350g plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together well.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract (or zest).
  5. Gently fold in the flour, mixing until it is just incorporated - take care not to over-mix or the biscuits may be tough.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 portions.
  7. Form each portion into a log approximately 20cm long and 3-4cm wide.
  8. Wrap each log in greaseproof paper/ baking parchment and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
  9. Using a sharp knife, slice the log(s) into 1cm discs.
  10. Lay the discs out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment/ silicone, spaced well apart (3-4cm).
  11. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until just turning golden brown at the edges. I find 15 minutes is usually enough - if they are overcooked, they will not be as light but will still be very tasty!
  12. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
  13. This is the fun part! The basic biscuits are lovely, buttery shortbread when plain, but can be varied in many ways, either by dipping each of the discs into a topping before placing them on the baking tray, or by dolloping topping ingredients onto each slice.

BASIC SUGAR TOPPING:
Dip each disc into granulated sugar/ vanilla sugar/ demerera sugar, pressing well so that the sugar sticks and covers the surface. Or try mixing some cinnamon into the sugar. Or roll the whole log in sugar before slicing to give the biscuits a sugar-crusted edge.

OTHER EASY TOPPINGS:
(Chop finely, place on a plate and dip each disc firmly)
Nuts
Glace cherries
Candied peel
Chocolate
Crystallized ginger

Other toppings I have experimented with so far:

PB&J: Use a teaspoon to make a indent on top of each disc and place a blob of peanut butter (or other nut butter) and a teaspoon of jam in the hollow.

Peanut-butter cup: Make an indent and use a blob of peanut butter and a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips/ chopped chocolate.

Jam Tart: Make an indent and add a teaspoon of jam - try a mixture of flavours, marmalade etc.

Millionaires' shortbread: Make an indent (it will need to be fairly deep) and add a teaspoon of condensed milk and sprinkle with chocolate
Caramel-beurre-sale: Make an indent and add a teaspoon of condensed milk and sprinkle with fleur-de-sel/ Maldon sea salt.

Dodgers: Cut a log into slightly thinner discs and sandwich two of the biscuits together with jam/ lemon curd/ Nutella. Alternatively, you could roll the dough out on baking parchment and use pastry cutters to cut out 'tops' and 'bottoms', cutting a hole out of the 'tops', to make more authentic Dodgers. These thinner biscuits will cook in 10-12 minutes.

FREEZING THE DOUGH:
Wrap the parchment paper logs tightly in tin foil and stash in the freezer. To use from the freezer, remove and leave for around 20 minutes to warm slightly. Then slice, top, and bake as above - I cook them for 20 minutes rather than 15 when they are straight from the freezer.

Handy Hint

The recipe scales up or down well.
Dough will keep for up to a week in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer.

Additional Information

  • Nut Free

  • Cake/Dessert

  • Christmas

  • Biscuit and sweets

  • Kids can help

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Your comments

  • Umami 07/02/10 18:47

    Some pictures here! http://www.flickr.com/photos/umamimum/4335267106/

  • Umami 02/02/10 12:44

    Pretty much anything goes with these biscuits - try laying out a selection of toppings on saucers and let the children choose their own. You could also try kneading ingredients (e.g. dried fruit, nuts, chocolate) into the room temperature dough and then form into a log and chill - this is on my list for the next roll of dough that I get out of the freezer.