Festive Cake at Hogmanay)
triumph of Scottish baking on the old national lines.
Flour, rice flour, butter, castor sugar
Only the best materials should be used. The flour should
be dried and sieved. The butter, which is the only moistening
and shortening agent, should be squeezed free of all water. The
sugar should be fine castor. Two other things are essential for
success, the careful blending of the ingredients and careful firing.
butter and sugar must first be blended. Put eight
ounces of butter and four ounces of castor sugar on to a
board, and work with the hand until thoroughly incor-
porated. Mix fourteen ounces of flour with two ounces of
rice flour and work gradually into the butter and sugar, until
the dough is of the consistency of short crust. Be careful that
it does not become oily (a danger in hot weather) or toughened
with over-mixing. The less kneading, the more short and crisp
the shortbread. Do not roll it out, as rolling, too, has a tendency
to toughen it, but press with the hand into two round cakes either
in wooden shortbread moulds, oiled and floured, which are then
reversed on to a sheet of baking-paper, or direct on the paper,
or in ungreased sandwich tins of the same size as the cakes.
most satisfactory thickness is three-quarters of an
inch for a cake eight inches in diameter, or in such proportion.
If you make a large thick cake, it is advisable to protect the
edges with a paper band or hoop, and to have several layers of
paper underneath and possibly one on the top. Pinch the edges
neatly all round with the finger and thumb, and prick all over
with a fork. For a festive occasion, decorate with white sweetie
almonds (almond comfits) or, in the case of small cakes,
with sweetie carvies (caraway comfits), and strips of candied
orange or citron peel. Bake in a moderate oven (325°F.) for
forty-five to sixty minutes, until it is browned to taste. The
shortbread will still be soft when removed from the oven, but
should be left to cool a little and then turned out very carefully
on to a sieve or wire tray. When quite cold and crisp, it should
be wrapped in greaseproof paper and stored in an airtight tin.
If left for any length of time, it is the better of being crisped
again in the oven, like biscuits.
good farm butter gives the true flavour. Many do-
mestic bakers aver that shortbread baked in the old coal-
heated oven tastes better than when baked in a gas or electric
oven. The proportion of rice to ordinary flour may be doubled,
or it may be omitted altogether; but a small proportion is recommended.
it is eaten all the year round, shortbread is associated particularly
with the Yule season, which embraces Christmas and Hlogmanay (New
Year’s Eve), and is invariably provided for the ‘first-footers’
— those who go visiting from house to house in the wee small
hours of New Year morning, The large, round cake of rich, crisp
shortbread is, in fact, the lineal descendant of the ancient Yule-bannock,
which is notched round the edge to symbolize the sun’s ray.
As white flour increased in popularity, our bakers began to experiment
eventually evolved the shortbread we know today. At first a luxury,
it gradually superceded the shortened oatcake at Yule, at weddings
and on other festive occasions.
To Scottish Christmas