How to make Christmas shortbread

Dan Lepard's Christmas shortbread

Good Food's Dan Lepard shows you how to make a traditional buttery Christmas treat - and decorate it!

If there's a classic biscuit to win hearts at Christmas it has to be homemade shortbread. So easy to make and bake, and you can personalise the recipe in many ways. Here I've decorated them with a little piped white icing, though they're just as good for me simply dusted with castor sugar after baking, fresh from the oven.

Here's the recipe

Classic shortbread

Makes 18 biscuits, 7cm in diameter

INGREDIENTS

325g plain flour

2g salt

150g white sugar, granulated or caster

225g unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small pieces

25g semolina

extra flour for rolling

extra sugar to finish

Royal icing for piping

3 eggs whites (60g eggs)

550g icing sugar

METHOD

1. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter then work everything together with your hands, rubbing the butter in at first then squeezing it into the flour until it starts to form a soft dough. Lastly add the semolina and work this evenly though.

2. Place a sheet of non-stick paper on your work top. Press the dough out onto it then lightly flour the top and roll it out to about 1cm thick. Lift the paper and dough onto a tray, cover with plastic wrap or non-stick paper then chill the dough for a few hours, or overnight. During this time the semolina will absorb moisture from the butter and help the shortbread to bake crisply. Also, the sugar will dissolve and this will help give it a fine texture once baked.

3. Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/320F/gas 2 1/2. Cut the rolled dough into fingers or shapes by pressing sharply down into the dough with the knife or the cutter. Space the shapes out on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper and bake for about 30-40 minutes until crisp and dry.

4. As soon as they come out of the oven you can dust the top with extra castor sugar, so it will stick to the top of the shortbread as it cools.

5. To decorate with royal icing beat the egg whites with an electric whisk to soft peaks. Then add a quarter of the icing sugar and beat again to a soft meringue. Continue adding the icing sugar, a quarter at a time, until it's all mixed in then the icing is ready for piping.

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