Keeping to a budget over Christmas does not mean you have to skimp on Christmas gifts, you merely need to take a fresh look at the meaning of Christmas. Handmade Xmas presents for friends and family members will be much more appreciated than mass produced store bought items.
Making your own gifts is fun and edible Christmas gifts will be appreciated by most people over the festive season. Scottish shortbread is a traditional butter-rich biscuit bake and extremely popular throughout the Christmas season. Shortbread is easy to make and can be cut into various shapes, it will look fantastic packed into pretty tins or boxes. You can make different flavored variations on the standard recipe and give an assorted box of shortbread as a gift.
Recipe for Shortbread – Makes 30 -36 biscuits
- 1lb (450g) butter
- 8oz (225g) caster sugar
- 1lb (450g) plain white flour
- 8oz (225g) ground rice or rice flour
- Pinch of salt
- Golden or colored granulated sugar for coating
- Caster sugar
Method for Scottish Shortbread
- Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. All ingredients should be at room temperature.
- Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl, until the mix is plae and fluffy.
- Sift the flour, rice flour and salt and stir into the creamed butter mixture using a wooden spoon. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs.
- Gather the dough together using your hands and turn it onto a clean work surface. Knead the mixture lightly until it forms a ball. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll mix into sausage shape.
- Wrap in cling film and chill until firm.
- When chilled, unwrap the roll and slice into discs up to half inch thickness. Pour the golden or colored granulated sugar onto a plate and roll the edge of each disc in the sugar.
- Place the biscuit cut side up on baking sheets.
- Bake at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on thickness of biscuits and until the cookies are a pale golden color.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with caster sugar.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Variations on Traditional Scottish Shortbread
Use cookie cutters to cut your biscuits into different fun shapes, color the edges of your shapes with the colored sugar as indicated in step 6 above.
Spiced Shortbread – Add 1 tablespoon of sifted ground mixed spice to the mixture.
Ginger Shortbread – Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger with the flours and add 2oz (50g) of chopped and crystallised ginger to the dough.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread – Knead 2 oz (50g) of chocolate chips into the dough.
Try baking your shortbread in bulk by multiplying the recipe times four, to make large batches of cookies in one go.
When your shortbread has cooled, pack a selection of different shaped and flavored biscuits into pretty gift tins or gift boxes.