Monday, 14 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Are you still sticking to your New Year Resolutions? 

The last couple of years I've stopped pledging to 'quit this, do less of that' and now resolve to introduce new and interesting things to my life instead, for example take up a new hobby, set myself a new challenge, make more time for's far more rewarding than starting the year with promises of deprivation, honestly.

And anyway I was never any good at sticking to those promises like giving sugar up 'for ever!', or no carbs after 6pm. Yeah, ok, like that's going to happen. It's 8.30pm and i just had some citrus shortbread...there you go, sugar and carbs after 6pm in one fell swoop. 

Not to mention this blog would be far less interesting to write (and hopefully read!) if I kept to all those boring resolutions.

And so my first baking episode of 2013 was the citrus shortbread I was just eating. It's actually the January recipe on the Abel and Cole 2013 calendar, and it's pretty much what the doctor ordered to remedy those January blues. The recipe is super simple, as you'd expect with shortbread, with just the addition of some orange zest and spices.

Actually, the other difference is using cornflour as well as normal flour...I suppose this makes it lighter, but I'll have to do a little more research.

The shortbread is beautifully fragrant and, most importantly I think, wonderfully short. It crumbles and melts in the mouth, with the initial sweetness and warmth of the sugar and spices, and then a faintly bitter afternote from the orange zest. I wasn't sure if I liked the bitter taste at first, and thought perhaps I had just put too much zest in, but actually, I quite like it now. It cuts through the typically sweet and buttery taste of normal shortbread. Not that this is usually a bad thing, but it's just something a bit different and no less delicious for it. The recipe does call for the zest of an orange or clementine, and i used an orange, so perhaps a clementine would be the sweeter option?

I'll definitely be trying the recipe again with different flavours, I think the addition of cornflour is genius, it makes it light as a feather whilst at the same time totally buttery and indulgent - magic! 

Citrus & Spice Shortbread

150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
75g caster sugar
1 orange or clementine, zest only 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground ginger
pinch salt
150g plain white flour
75g cornflour
Extra sugar and spices to dust - approx 2 tbsp sugar to 1/2 tsp spice

Preheat the oven to 170 degress
Beat the butter until soft, add the sugar, zest and spices 
Add the salt and sift in the flours, stir till just combined then bring together with your hands, working it as little as possible. 
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut in to biscuits.
Prick evenly with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden - this of course depends on the size of biscuit you have.
Dust with spiced sugar while still warm, allow to cool on a wire rack.