Recipe Tip: Spiced Seville orange shortbread with vanilla sugar
Top Recipe for 25 Persons by Ben Colvill. All ingredients and tips for getting it right. These light and crumbly biscuits are scented with bitter orange and delicately spiced with cardamon and fennel seed.
- 3cardamom pods
- ¼ teaspoon(s)fennel seeds
- 125 gunsalted butter, softened
- 75 gcaster sugar
- 1 Seville orange
- 1 teaspoon(s)Seville orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon(s)sea salt
- 180 gplain flour
Step 1Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160° fan, 350°F, gas mark 4. Line a large, shallow baking tray with baking parchment.
Step 2Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, discarding outer skins so you are left with the small seeds. Add the fennel seeds and crush everything to a fragrant powder.
Step 3Cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. This takes a couple of minutes with a stand or hand-held mixer, by which time the mixture should be slightly lighter in colour and more mousse like.
Step 4With the mixer still going, add the orange zest, crushed spices and salt.
Step 5Once mixed, and add the flour in three tranches, mixing carefully with a wooden spoon after each addition. Add the orange juice as you go. Make sure the flour is thoroughly incorporated, but do not over work the dough.
Step 6Now go in with your hands and form into a rough ball. Again, be gentle. The dough will seem too crumbly but have faith! This crumbliness will result in the crisp lightness of the finished biscuit.
Step 7Place your dough between two sheets of baking parchment and roll out to a thickness of approx. 0.5 cms (thinner will result in a crisper snap, not unpleasing but less like classic shortbread; thicker risks dismal doughiness).
Step 8Using a small cutter, 5 or 6cm is ideal, cut out your biscuits and transfer lovingly to the waiting baking tray (the biscuits don’t spread, so don’t worry about leaving too much space between them). You are aiming for 25-30 biscuits. Re-form a dough from any scraps and you might manage another couple.
Step 9Bake for 15 minutes. Check after 12 mins to allow for variations in thickness and oven heat – you are aiming for light golden brown, but don’t worry overly if they are slightly darker at the edge.
Step 10Remove the oven and sprinkle generously with vanilla sugar whilst still hot.
Step 11Transfer to a wire rack to cool for as long as you can restrain yourself.
Step 12Scoff wantonly and crumbly-ly, with a cup of steaming tea (and scant regard for correct English).