Christmas shortbread

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Last weekend I had a bit of a Christmas baking bonanza making this Christmas shortbread and John Whaite’s Vienesse mince pies. The mince pies were a bit of a disaster as although they looked good before they went in the oven they certainly didn’t afterwards! They did taste good though. This shortbread however was much more of a success both in appearance and taste. It was very popular in the staffroom at work, and combines the Christmas flavours of mincemeat and cranberries as well as shortbread. This is a Jo Wheatley recipe that you can find on her blog Jo’s Blue Aga. I used the mincemeat I made on Stir-up Sunday.
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Blackberry jam crumble shortbreads

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I received John Whaite’s ‘John Whaite Bakes At Home’ for my birthday in August and until recently had not had the chance to try out any of the recipes. One of the recipes that had caught my eye was this blackberry jam crumble shortbread recipe. I love blackberry recipes and have been disappointed that I’ve been so busy that I’ve not been able to try anymore recipes other than this recipe and the autumn traybake I made back in August.
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Cranberry & white chocolate shortbread

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Ah the holidays. I had planned to do so much baking. Mary Berry’s seeded breadsticks. Squidgy pear and chocolate cake. Carrot cake cupcakes with pineapple cream cheese frosting. Then I was ill. And the thought of food – one of my most favourite things in the world became my least favourite thing. Even the thought of baking. It has been a sorry old week in the Little Birdie household. Only now am I beginning to feel like facing food again.

I did however manage to make these shortbread on Thursday. I was visiting my lovely friend Kathryn who is allergic to egg so needed something biscuity without any egg – shortbread was the perfect solution. I had spotted this recipe in this month’s Good Food magazine and knew I wanted to give it a go so Thursday seemed like a good time. This is a Mary Berry recipe. It’s only the second time I’ve made shortbread and I have to say it wasn’t a complete success. It was a little crumbly and didn’t quite look like the picture. My husband was horrified at the inclusion of semonlina (having honed his baking skills working in the kitchen of a National Trust property he likes to think he knows what he’s talking about!) and was insistent that only flour, butter and sugar should be used! The semonlina is used to give the shortbread a crunch.

They are however tasty and go very nicely with a cup of tea or coffee. This recipe will make 8 wedges that will keep for up to a week in an airtight container or will freeze for 2 months (defrost at room temperature).
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Double Chocolate Shortbreads

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Now these are supposedly meant to be shortbreads…however I would disagree. The texture is more of a crumbly biscuit rather than a buttery, moreish shortbread. They are perfectly tasty (although perhaps lacking in depth of flavour) and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee while catching up with a friend (as I discovered today when I managed to scoff three of them – oops!) but do not embark upon making them thinking that you will create traditional shortbread.

I made these as I was visiting one of my friends who is allergic to egg – shortbread seemed to be the perfect option. I considered lemon, chocolate chip and espresso choc chip but found this BBC Good Food recipe which seemed easy enough to whip up quickly this morning. I managed to make 20 biscuits from the mixture.
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Marbled Millionaires Shortbread

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As the summer term comes to an end in schools across the country, attention turns to the members of staff leaving for pastures new. We have two amazing ladies leaving us and so are holding a tea party to celebrate their many years of service – so of course I had to offer my baking services!

Tray bakes were the order of the day so after my successful banoffee pie I decided I would try another caramel-based adventure – marbled millionaires shortbread. Not ideal in this baking hot weather but a classic favourite and hopefully a safer bet than cupcakes (icing in this weather – not a good idea!)

I used a combination of a Nigella recipe from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ and a recipe from the Carnation website which you can find here. The Nigella recipe said to use a 23cm tin and the Carnation recipe a 20cm tin but I used a 21cm and it seemed to be ok.

They were a big hit – it’s just a shame they didn’t survive the weather particularly well – squidgy millionaires shortbread is never nice! If you’re making them in our current heatwave make sure you keep them in your fridge.
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