To my mind, of all the sweet treats my mother made when I was young, shortbread always seemed the most luxurious and perhaps surprisingly, the most “exotic”. Set against the kaleidoscope of Malaysian desserts that I grew up with, shortbread seemed the epitome of Western refinement – something the lords and ladies of Windsor would perhaps nibble on, whilst sipping on their Earl Grey at teatime. In a childhood saturated with deep-fried bananas and glutinous purple layer-cakes, there was something about the buttery simplicity of shortbread that echoed a colonial restraint that appealed to my early sense of identity. That my mother made very good shortbread, made me feel different; it, in part, made me feel just a wee bit more British.
The secret to my mother’s shortbread is, however, an altogether un-British Asian ingredient: rice flour. This elevates the shortbread to another level; giving it an amazing texture and makes for an even crisper biscuit bite.
For more Sweet Treats from The Muddled Pantry, please click here
Note: Try to use rice flour sourced from an Asian supplier rather than from a health shop as the former seems to be finer and gives a better finish.
Shortbread: Makes 20
120g plain flour
60g rice flour
60g castor sugar
120g butter, diced
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius
- Sift both flours together
- Combine all the ingredients into a cake-mixer bowl
- Using a dough-hook, start the mixer on a slow setting until the butter begins to break up
- Increase the speed and continue until the mixture has bound together and forms a dough
- Roll the mixture out on a floured surface to a thickness of 10mm
- Using a small cookie-cutter, cut into shapes
- Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment
- Prick each biscuit 3 times with a fork
- Bake in the centre of the oven for between 40 to 50 minutes
- Towards the end of the baking time, check the bottom of the shortbread: if the bottoms have started to go light brown, they are done
- Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with white sugar
- Cool completely on a wire cake rack before storing in an airtight container