Sunday, 30 December 2012

shortbread snowflakes

A couple of weeks ago, when Christmas baking was in full swing, I made plans to sell some baked goods at a Christmas craft fair that my Church was organising. I enlisted the help of Fiona, the same wonderful lady who helped me bake my wedding cake, and together we baked batch upon batch of gingerbread, shortbread, brownies, cupcakes and more. Some of our treats were bought and devoured, and many more were not. What do you do when you have baked goods packaged up and covering every surface of your kitchen? Give them away! John and I had a lot of fun distributing cakes here, there and everywhere (while enjoying a few for ourselves), and I learnt the valuable lesson that at a Christmas craft fair, people are looking for gifts  to give, not cupcakes to consume as they shop!

The recipe I used to make these shortbread snowflakes is essentially a very luxurious shortbread.  The addition of double cream gives the dough an incredibly soft texture that I would happily work with all day long.
ingredients
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g icing (confectioners) sugar
65ml double (heavy) cream
500g plain (all purpose) flour

1 tsp vanilla extract or a vanilla pod if you have one

method
1) In a large mixing bowl, beat together the icing sugar, double cream, butter and vanilla extract until combined.
2) Gradually add the flour until it is mixed in completely. The dough will be quite stiff by this point.
3) Wrap the dough in cling film and flatten / roll with rolling pin until it's about 1/2 an inch thick.
4) Chill in the fridge for about an hour, or leave for up to 2 days if making in advance.
5) Pre-heat the oven to 180C / Gas mark 4/ 350F and grease a few baking trays.
6) Remove dough from fridge, unwrap it and place on a floured surface. Roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness.
7) Cut with your choice of cookie cutter and place onto prepared baking tray.
8) Bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until just turning golden at the edges.
9) Place baking tray onto cooling rack, and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tray, to give time to harden.

Notes: I found that the thinner the dough, the more the snowflakes kept their shape, and didn't swell while baking. However, you have to be far more watchful over the baking time when the dough is thin, as they are far more prone to burning.

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