From my kitchen: Oat Shortbread

Melt-in-the-mouth shortbread is one of life’s culinary pleasures. Not everyone is a fan of biscuits but when it comes to shortbread, the soft buttery texture and subtly sweet flavour can impress even the most dubious diner. Shortbread originated in Scotland and was traditionally associated with Christmas and Hogmanay, or New Year celebrations. In my family shortbread is cause for a little celebration in itself, while oat shortbread is appreciated as an even tastier delicacy.

We’re not quite sure of the origin of our specific family recipe but these days it can be found jotted on the back of an envelope and stuck behind the cover of an ancient recipe book now held together with sticky tape.

The addition of oats lends the shortbread a richer texture and the flavour is subtly different from the “classic” version.

Oat shortbread recipe:

4 cups of oats (wholegrain, rolled oats)
1 cup caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups flour (cake flour is fine)
1 tsp baking power
500g of butter

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/320 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then mix in oats, caster sugar and salt.

Butter can be taken out the fridge beforehand to soften. If you haven’t done so you can soften the butter gently, either on the stove over low heat or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 100% power for approximately 30 seconds. After 30 seconds in the microwave you may need to stir the butter, which can soften or melt lumps that have remained hard. If too much hard butter remains then microwave again for ten seconds and repeat as necessary.

Combine the butter with the dry ingredients but don’t over-mix. Line a flat baking tray with paper and press the dough into it. Keep the depth of the shortbread dough around 1.5 to 2 centimetres (one sixth to one eighth of an inch) so that it maintains a uniform consistency. Use a fork to score or prick the dough all over – you can use a decorative pattern if you’d like to, but the holes are necessary to allow heat to be absorbed evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour; once 45 minutes have passed check regularly. Remove the shortbread from the oven when it has browned slightly, then cut into squares while it is still hot. While it cools, signup to play online, then grab a square and settle in for some fun, tasty treat in hand.

Helpful tips

Butter:

When melting butter, it’s best to aim for “soft” and not “liquid”. It needs to be able to combine with the other ingredients smoothly, but not so soft that it’s absorbed as soon as it meets the dry ingredients.

Chilling:

An optional step is to chill your dough before baking the shortbread – some people refrigerate it once and others twice (for a couple of hours each time), which makes the biscuit soft and flaky as the butter slowly re-melts.

Don’t roll:

Rolling out your dough can compress it too much, leading to denser and tougher biscuits. Rather press down gently – a slightly textured surface is part of the charm.

© 2021 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved.