Just lately I have started to be curious about my heritage – perhaps sparked by TV programmes such as ‘Who do you think you are?’ – and all those ‘way back’ predecessors with odd sounding names that I have never met. I have discovered, on my grandmother’s side, that the Clark family hailed from Scotland. In fact, I have an old black and white photo of me dressed in tartan for a family wedding, which I previously thought very strange attire for a 5 year old. Now, of course, I understand that the fabric was an integral part of a clan union.
Now, I wonder, do I have any Scottish traits that I haven’t been aware of or explored? I cannot dance the Highland fling, play the pipes, or toss a large tree in a field of play but, my grandmother’s legacy to me is, I believe, my love of cooking, especially baking. I don’t know why I have never attempted this recipe before but this weekend I fondly thought of her (preparing all those bowls club afternoon teas) and I resolved to make some north of the border shortbread.
These crumbly textured biscuits have very few ingredients, just butter, flour and sugar. In my recipe I used 4oz plain flour, 2oz rice flour (or you could use semolina or cornflour), 4 oz salted butter and 2 oz sugar. I creamed the butter and sugar together until it was light and fluffy, then incorporated the flour. Finally, I kneaded the dough very lightly to bring it together, then rolled it out between two sheets of baking parchment, before cutting into rounds. The oven was set at 180C and they were cooked and golden after 20 mins. When out of the oven and still warm, I dusted the shortbread with caster sugar, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They were delicious.
I wonder what other Scottish delicacies I can cook - maybe a Dundee cake the next time I hear my ancestors calling?