This shortbread recipe from the New West Country Cookbook makes the perfect biscuits to go with a cup of tea or, for us in the studio, coffee. Shortbread is usually associated with Scotland, but the addition of clotted cream – we always use Rodda’s – plants these biscuits firmly in the West Country. The perfect shortbread recipe is buttery and light and very sweet – the dusting of brown sugar at the end of this shortbread recipe really brings out the sweetness of these biscuits. They are really easy to make, and taste a lot better than store bought biscuits, especially on the day they’re made, and you can always use any leftovers (unlikely in my house!) as part of a biscuity base or a crumbly topping.
Clotted cream is something that everyone associates with Cornwall. Russell has very clear memories of the large enamel bowls of clotted cream sold in his parents’ farm shop, with a thick golden crust that gave way to the sweet rich cream beneath. Rodda’s are the largest producers in the UK and can produce up to 25 tons of clotted cream a day. The term Cornish Clotted Cream is actually protected by the EU – the milk has to be Cornish and the cream has a very high fat content. It goes perfectly in these biscuits, but my family also eats it with pretty much everything, including Paul Ainsworth’s Sticky Fudge Pudding.
Russell Brown has lived in the West Country all of his life, but came a tad late to cooking as a career. He grew up as part of a family where food was genuinely important – his parents ran a farm shop – but was 27 before he had his first full time cooking job. His first Head Chef job was in Dorset and in April 2003 he and his wife opened their own restaurant, Sienna, there. It’s a very small place with only 15 seats and has is the only restaurant in Dorset with a Michelin Star. Seasonality is incredibly important to him and he uses as much produce as possible form the South West. His menus are small but perfectly formed – with 3 choices at lunch and 5 choices at dinner, and the option of a 6 course tasting menu.
Russell Brown’s Clotted Cream Shortbread Recipe
PREP: 15 mins plus 1 hour chilling COOKING: 8 mins
250g pastry flour
1 tsp fine ground sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
110g caster sugar
125g clotted cream
90g soft unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla pod
2 large free-range egg yolks
Beat the butter with the sugar until pale. Beat in the cream and the seeds from the vanilla pod. Gradually add the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Tip the flour onto a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre – add the cream mix. Using fingertips, stir together gently and knead briefly into a dough. Divide into two and roll each half into a sausage approximate 2cm in diameter. Wrap tightly in cling film and chill for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 165°C. Remove the cling film and slice the dough into rounds approximately 5mm thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with silicone or greaseproof paper, leaving at least 1cm between biscuits. Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with light brown sugar.
Allow to cool before serving.