If You Are Going To Be British...
I think I have made it clear that most of my comfort foods spawn from England. My Grans, the most exquisite cook (She attempted to take a cooking course once, but ended up having to correct the professor on his technique so much she got fed up) probably aided my strong desire to enter the culinary field. But living in Seattle, I have been rather hard pressed to get my hands on the things I desire most, the things that feed my soul as well as my body. I have been searching though, Huskey Deli on California in West Seattle sells my most coveted flake chocolates (by Cadburry), we send my sister over to B.C. on the odd trip to fetch us some tea (I don't know what it is about Seattle but our tea doesn't go off the grocery shelves fast enough and the tea gets a bit stale). But for a true shortbread, I have to rely on myself.
Most of my memories surrounding this little treat are of hard, chalky, stale shortbread sold in tins, rather more bland and tasteless than anything with style and pizazz of the home made variety. I did a bit of research, having never made the stuff before- and decided to go with the recipe I found in The Women's Home Institute Set (the Cakes & Biscuits book specifically) that my Grans had given me when she found out about my love of baking. I actually followed the recipe to the T, can you believe it, and whats more, it came out tender- with just a hint of crumble. I suppose if you are going to make a proper tea biscuit, the best bet is going from the source.
8 oz butter
4 oz powdered sugar
8 oz A.P. Flour
4 oz Cornstarch
pinch of salt
granulated sugar to top
Cream together butter and sugar, then add in salt, flour & cornstarch in the same way you would make a cookie, though obviously it will be drier and flakier. Press into a greased pan- around 13 inches by 9 and prick with a fork. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes until it begins to get golden color- but be sure not to over bake! Once it is done sprinkle the top with a lovely large amount of sugar until it glistens- and let rest about 15 minutes before you cut it into slices for tea!
My only advice is to make this when you know you have lots of people around to enjoy it because it is far too good to eat just one and you, and your scale, will thank you if you can spread the joy around.