Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Strawberry Cream Shortbreads

A couple of weeks ago I threw a tea party one Saturday afternoon - it was a great excuse to sit inside on a rainy afternoon, drinking Pimm's with friends and eating some delicious home-baked treats.

Foreground - Finger sandwiches, Orla's pear cake, strawberry cream shortcakes
Background - More finger sandwiches, Mississippi Mud Pie

It was a perfect opportunity to test out some recipes I'd had my eye on - one of which was Classic British Shortbread Biscuits, from the new Meg Rivers Artisan Bakery book, which had caught my eye when featured in an issue of Stylist Magazine. Pictured served as little sandwiches filled with fresh cream & strawberries, they seemed to me like the perfect, decadent treat for an English afternoon tea.

The shortbread recipe was pretty simple - find it here, but here's a few things I noticed along the way:

Firstly, the recipe calls for 35g of rice flour - unfortunately such things can't be found in Sainsburys New Cross Gate (at least not by me), so I substituted it with 35g of plain flour. Secondly, the recipe says it makes 20 biscuits - I rolled mine out thinner than the suggested 1cm (the pictured biscuits looked much thinner) but it still only made about 14-16.

They did, I have to say, turn out beautifully despite the above - slightly crisp and wonderfully simple, they were delicious eaten alone with a cup of tea the next day. I like to imagine that at some point in my life, I won't ever buy biscuits from anywhere, but just have a big tin constantly full of these beauties to offer to unexpected guests.

Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't cover how to turn them into little sandwiches, so here's how I did it:

1. Whisk your double cream until it's thick enough to hold its shape. In hindsight, I thought about the possibility of adding some icing sugar to give it a little more sweetness, or even some orange liqueur to add flavour.
2. Wash your strawberries (you could also use raspberries, chopped peaches or blueberries), remove the tops and chop in half vertically.
3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle half-full with the cream.
4. Place one biscuit upside down and pipe the cream onto the underside - start from the centre and spiral outwards.
5. Place your strawberries on top of the cream (I found it looked best with the tips towards the outside, as this left the decadent-looking cream on show), and then pipe a small blob more cream on top of the strawberries, in the centre - this acts like a glue to hold it all together.
5. Place another shortbread biscuit (right-side up this time) on top - press down a little, so it holds on to the small blob of cream.
6. Dust with icing sugar and move onto a pretty plate to wow your guests.
7. Serve on lovely little china plates with cake forks - and a glass of Pimm's goes wonderfully!

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