You say that something or someone (really)
takes the biscuit when they have done
something that you find extremely annoying or surprising
I don’t know about you, but I am very partial to a biscuit. For instance, I love a digestive or two dipped in my tea. Who does not like custard creams? Which always reminds me of the Church fêtes of my childhood. Where the children would be scrambling for the biscuits in the tea tent trying to avoid being left with the rich teas. As you get older your horizons widen and you can find dark chocolate-dipped ginger thins, brandy snaps filled with cream, and a world of cookies in all their delicious variations.
A Bite of Shortbread History
My all-time favourite biscuit is all-butter shortbread. Walkers of Aberlour are one of Scotland’s biggest exporters. With a turnover of over £100 million a year, someone else must like shortbread too. Walker’s distinctive tartan packaging is recognised all over the world. On the island of Anglesey they bake a rich shortbread marked with scallop shells called ‘Teisennau Berffro’ or James Cakes. American shortbread recipes often whip up and pipe the biscuit mix. Crumblier traditional recipes are gently rolled and cut or pressed.
Making traditional shortbread uses only three ingredients flour, butter, and sugar. The proportions are a 3:2:1 ratio. Above all, the type and quality of butter you use is very important as above all the butter gives the shortbread flavour. I guess I am lucky to have wonderful Jersey butter to hand. Normally you find unsalted butter fresher than salted ( which acts as a preservative ) and is my personal preference.
My Perfect Almond Shortbread Biscuits
The following recipe includes almonds for a lovely flavour and cornflour to maintain a light texture. So should I not really call this recipe shortbread and am I despicably taking the biscuit, all that is debatable but it certainly produces a crisp, dainty tea time treat.
- Baking Tray
- Silicon Mat or non-stick Baking Paper
- 100 gram Plain Flour
- 50 gram Ground Almonds
- 50 gram Cornflour
- 135 gram unsalted Jersey Butter diced and kept cold in the refrigerator until required
- 100 gram Caster Sugar plus a little extra to dust
- 1 tablespoon cold Water
- 1 teaspoon Almond Essence
- A large pinch of fine Sea Salt
- Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160°C / Gas mark 3.
- Place the flour, cornflour, almonds, and salt in a food processor and add the butter. Blitz together for a couple of minutes then add the sugar. Blend until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Then add water and almond essence, using the pulse setting combine the ingredients into a paste stopping as soon as the mixture binds together as to not over work the dough.
- Roll out a sheet of cling film on to your work surface and spoon on the paste in a line. Roll tightly in aluminium foil to make a sausage shaped parcel, tying the ends. Refrigerate for at least an hour until hard.
- Take out from the refrigerator and slice using a sharp knife in to one quarter of inch thick slices and place on a baking tray covered with either baking parchment or a silicon mat.
- Sprinkle with some extra caster sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes or until lightly golden.