Monday, 19 November 2012

Spiced fruit and nut shortbreads

Ruth over at Makey-Cakey  has set up a seasonal ingredient swap. I missed her previous swap and so it was with some interest I read the principle behind it. Anyone who expresses an interest is paired up by Ruth and each person sends their partner an ingredient, preferably an interesting one, not a staple like flour! You then bake something with your received ingredient and Ruth posts a round up of everyone's creative bakes.

This time it was a seasonal swap, mind you the season is autumn, encompassing Halloween  bonfire night and thanksgiving, so the range of ingredients you could possibly send is very broad!

I was paired up with Frances. Frances does not have a blog herself but enjoys baking, looking at others blogs and taking part in baking challenges such as these.

Frances pointed out that it was the 200th anniversary of  the birth of Charles Dickens, and sent ingredients inspired by a passage from The mystery of Edwin Drood, one of Charles' works that I must confess that I have not read.

She sent me walnut pieces, dried cranberries and cinnamon (also some fab chocolatey sprinkles but I have other ideas for these!)

So I put my thinking cap on and slowly an idea began to emerge. When many people think of shortbread they think of clotted cream, strawberries and cream and ice cream. All very summery things. I decided to bring the shortbread biscuit into Autumn by using my sent ingredients.

Spiced fruit and nut shortbread biscuits

makes 10, easily doubled

100g butter
50g light brown sugar
115g plain flour
15g rice flour
heaped 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
25g of walnut pieces, roughly chopped
25g dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Cream together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add all the other ingredients and bring together, using a spoon, hands or combination of the two, until a dough is formed.

Divide the dough into two, wrap each in clingfilm and chill for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN. Roll out one piece of dough at a time a cut out what ever shape you like. Re-roll the trimmings and cut out more shapes. Its up to you but I do not like to roll more than twice as it makes the shortbread much less short. Place the shortbread shapes onto baking sheets. Repeat with the second piece  of dough.

If you want really sharp edges to your shortbread chill in the fridge or freezer for 15-30 minutes, this will help prevent the shortbread spread whilst baking. I did not really have time and as I made shortbread rounds it was not as important.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

These shortbread are genuinely one of my favourite shortbreads that I have made. Its highly tempting to use the leftover ingredients for more shortbread but I have another idea, so watch this space!