A few weeks after I started blogging, my flatmate from University, Becca wrote to me. She had just had a closer look at my posts and recipes and was wondering if I would be interested in a family recipe. "Yes, please!!!", I replied back. And she sent me the recipe for a Scottish shortbread, know as Pitcaithly Bannock.
Back in University, Becca was the native British girl who alternated between being amused and outraged at the ways of her eccentric flatmates, including yours truly, who came from every inhabited continent of this world, except Australia. She is now married to a wonderful Scottish man whom she met, coincidentally, when we were flatmates. She was a student of English literature with a focus on 17th century Erotica and he, a student of history, with a special interest in Medieval Piracy!! Boring is obviously not a word that exists in this couple's dictionary!!!
And they served this bannock at their wedding. But what caught my attention was the fact that "Pitcaithly" in the recipe title was also her husband's family name. This was truly a family recipe!!
This is a straight forward shortbread recipe with the standard ingredients being flour, sugar and butter. The difference in the recipe is the addition of almonds and candied mixed peel. The only minor change that I made was to toast the almonds to enhance their nuttiness.
Putting together this recipe is simple, as with any shortbread recipe. However, when it came to their shape, I wanted to do something different. Last week, I came across the idea of shaping the dough into a round and then scooping out a small circle from the centre. It gives the shortbread a slightly different shape from the regular. I got the idea from the blog that has me captivated with its outstanding photographs and recipes. It is written by a Russian woman in Texas and is aptly titled, "From Red Star to Lone Star"!!
These shortbread are everything a shortbread should be - buttery and crumbly and perfect with a cup of tea!! The addition of the roasted almonds and candied peel are interesting and something you might want to keep in mind the next time you bake shortbread!!
Do remember the shortbread hardens as it cools, so you might want to take them out in time or else you risk them becoming rock hard!! I confess that I might have baked these a few minutes longer than was necessary as this batch was slightly crisper than normal.
The Pitcaithly bannock is traditionally made at the beginning of August to coincide with the Lammas feast, marking the transition from summer to autumn and the beginning of the Scottish harvest festival. But, I had a better reason to make these this August. Simple...this August, Mr and Mrs Pitcaithly celebrate their first wedding anniversary!!!
Recipe courtesy : Becca Pitcaithly
- 150 gms plain flour
- 90 gms unsalted soft butter
- 40 gms sugar
- 1 tablespoon candied mixed peel
- 1 tablespoon roasted almonds, roughly chopped or flaked
- Pre-heat the oven at 165 deg C.
- Cream the butter and sugar together.
- Add the flour, candied mixed peel and almonds and combine together to form a firm-ish dough.
- Pat the dough into a rough circle and carve out a small circle from the centre.
- Score the dough lightly.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes until lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.