December 21 – butter

Has anyone else noticed the effect of the world-wide butter shortage?  It’s hardly a drought but it has impacted availability and price for butter in many parts of the world – who’d ha thunk it, eh?  One of the staple ingredients of so many treats on a Christmas table, this year it gets its own moment of reflection – but maybe that just me talking as the lapsed microeconomist and watcher of all things to do with how businesses thrive based on how people choose to spend their money.

Perhaps there is no better exemplar here than good old shortbread – the old-style version that I favour only has a few ingredients and its not so much butter as BUTTER!  We love it and I hope you will too.

Get the recipe

This recipe is deceptively simple – a bit like traditional scones.  It takes a little experience to get it cooked and nicely cut pieces on a plate without the shortbread disassembling itself into crumbs.  

The things to watch are over-cooking (if the oven was too hot, or even too cool but the shortbread was cooked for too long in the hope of it becoming more golden), and having a firm, steady cutting style – not chopping or sawing.  I find it hard to explain why it is so tricky, because – as with traditional scones – I was lucky to get it right the first time and have just done it the same since.  But I have watched others make shortbread and be disappointed with the results, and they are the most common trip ups.