Friday, 11 November 2011

Lets Make Christmas - heavenly scented shortbreads - recipe & book review

Its a tradition in this household that I buy a 'nice' tin of shortbread every Christmas, not sure why as I don't buy it the rest if the year I like it, but I just don't buy it any other time. I think my mum bought it at Christmas when we growing up so its become traditional. A bit like the tradition my sister was telling me about today, she only puts the tangerines and chocolates out on Christmas Eve, but she's not sure why, whatever the reason we do such things these habits make Christmas what it is. Anyway this year, breaking with tradition, for once, I'm making my own shortbread as we have grown very fond of homemade biscuits here. I did think about festive spices to flavour it but wanted something different and lighter, a different flavour for Christmas and really there is enough spice around at Christmas. So how about something floral instead?  Just imagine boxing day afternoon, a pot of tea and a plate of this loveliness, enjoy this vanilla, rose and lavender shortbread and 'Lets make Christmas'!
250g unsalted butter
180g caster sugar (plus more for rolling the shortbread in)
4 free range eggs beaten
500g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
pinch sea salt
1 tsp Dried culinary Lavender (I used Steenbergs)
A vanilla pod
8 drops Rose Essence
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C fan. Line some baking sheets, get three cutters ready.
2. With a food mixer, cream the soft butter and caster sugar together until fluffy, add the 4 beaten free range eggs one at a time. Add the flour and the salt, as soon as the mixture holds together stop mixing.
3. Divide the mix into 3.
Into mix one add the seeds from the inside of a vanilla pod and knead slightly to incorporate, do not overwork.
Into mix two add a teaspoon of lavender and knead slightly, do not overwork.
Into mix three add about 8 drops of rose essence and knead slightly to mix, do not overwork.
4. Dust a board or worktop with flour and take each mix of dough, roll out to a decent thickness and cut the dough into shapes. (I used a different cutter for each flavour to help distinguish the three)
5. Place the shapes apart on a baking tray and bake for 15-17 minutes. When the shortbread is cooked place in a bowl of caster sugar and coat all over with the sugar.
6. Wrap them in something suitably festive to give as a gift! Label to indicate which shape aligns with which flavour (here - round = rose; bell = vanilla and star = lavender)
 This post is a contribution towards Vanessa Kimbell's 'Lets Make Christmas', check out her blog for lots of other homemade Christmas food ideas and inspiration from other food bloggers.
Check out the book 'Prepped' for Vanessa's own Lavender Shortbread recipe and to see how she makes Lavender sugar.

This original vanilla shortbread recipe is from Gordon Ramsey's Christmas book entitled, 'Christmas with Gordon', the chapters cover party food, Christmas menu's (of course), breakfast and brunch, lunches and suppers and sweet treats. I thought it was a really good idea in a seasonal book like this to include menus for breakfast, brunch. lunches and suppers as well as the usual Christmas fayre. Christmas lunch holds no fear for me, but I struggle to come up with new ideas to feed people the rest of the time at Christmas and new year, especially house guests. This book gave me some new ideas.

This shortbread recipe was easy to follow, and all the recipes in this book are no more than a page long. The photography is quite good and all recipes are depicted, a bonus if you prefer the visual to guide you. Gordon's book also covers a variety of Christmas lunch menus centred around the main dish, turkey, beef, fish etc. are all covered complete with starters, side dishes and desserts all the planning is done for you, just follow the recipes.

This book is published by Quadrille Publishing.


  1. Ohhh....yummmmm!! I agree- sometimes lighter, slightly different flavours amongst all the rich Christmassy offerings is often very welcome!

  2. Yes agreed Kate, nice to have a change. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Oh wow these look and sound amazing and I'm sure it smells good too! Nothing beats homemade - you can start your own tradition :)

  4. Oh yes Susan, these look so pretty and I love your flavours. Keep meaning to try Lavender shortbread, but now I want the rose.

  5. These look so pretty and I LOVE lavender in baking......I use my own home-grown it! Home-made shortbread is delicious and yours look divine darlink!

  6. How scrumptious. I love your recipe, and was just thinking I could use lavender sugar, when you kindly reminded me of Vanessa's recipe! Wonderful!


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x