Cranberry, Orange & Pecan Scottish Shortbread
Based On A Very Traditional Scottish Recipe
(A flame-haired Scot 😊)
This Cranberry Orange Pecan Scottish Shortbread recipe, is a variation on my classic Tradional Scottish Shortbread recipe, with some additions that take the biscuit to the next level.
What Is Scottish Shortbread Made Of?
These soft and melt in the mouth buttery biscuits are surprisingly only made up of 4 main ingredients: butter, flour, corn flour & Sugar.
The corn flour (corn starch), helps to give that extra soft texture that just ‘melts in the mouth’!
Some Tips For Shortbread
You can of course do half of the batch regular and half with these flavour additions, just remember to half the amounts.
Chopping The Nuts
A tip for chopping nuts, to stop them flying everywhere and taking half the time to cut. Use 2 large sharp knifes. Hold them both together in one hand and use the opposite hand to hold the end of the two blades together. Chop from the handle side first and then chop at the tip end. Proceed by keeping the handle end down and repeat chopping in an up & down motion at the tip end, pushing down with the palm of your hand. Works for chopping herbs too.
The shear delicate nature of Scottish shortbread, means it is not suitable to use in cookie moulds. The chances of the dough sticking or breaking is very high. If you really want to try it, you would need to work the dough more, well grease the mould, and make longer. This might work, but the over-working the cookie dough and baking longer, will make a tougher dough. And in the end, you will not have the soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture of Scottish shortbread, but more of a regular shortbread.
A NOTE ON THE INGREDIENTS
The equivalnet of Caster Sugar, is extra/super fine sugar in the states.
Make Your Own Caster Sugar
If you can’t source either of these sugars, you can make your own by grinding regular granulated sugar a little bit or processing them lightly. Do not go as fine as a powder, keep it as small granules. See my photo above of icing/powdered sugar, caster sugar & granulated sugar granule sizes for your reference. Please note when making your own caster sugar, that US granulated is slightly finer a granule size than our UK equivalent. Read more about Differences In UK & US Baking Ingredients
Orange & Nuts
I used a premium orange extract, but you can easily used orange zest and a tsp of orange juice. You can also omit the nuts if there’s any allergies, or use a different nut if you like too 🙂
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Cranberry Orange Pecan Scottish Shortbread
- 225g Butter, cubed & softened
- (1 cup/2 sticks or 8 oz)
- 110g Caster Sugar (* see note)
- (½ cup Extra/super fine sugar, 4 oz)
- 225g Plain Flour
- (1 ¾ cups All Purpose, 8 oz)
- 110g Corn Flour
- (1 cup less 1 tbsp Corn starch, 4 oz)
- Pinch Salt
- 1 tsp Orange Extract (or zest of orange & 1 tsp oj)
- 2 Handfuls of Dried Cranberries
- 1 Handful of Pecans (optional)
- Some Granulated Sugar for topping
- Scales or Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large spoon
- Stand or Hand Mixer, (or Medium-Large Mixing bowl & spoon)
- Pastry Cutter (optional)
- Baking/parchment Paper
- Baking Tray/sheet x 2
- Palette knife or sharp kitchen spatula
- Timer or Phone Timer
- Cooling Rack
- 2 Large chopping knives
- Chopping Board
- Zester (optional)
- OVEN: 180c/160c Fan Oven/350f/Gas Mark 4
1. Weigh or measure out and cube the butter and leave out till softened. I like to cut to about 1cm or 1/3″ size as a smaller surface area will soften faster. If you forget to take out in time, here’s a little video hack for softening in about 12 minutes that I reviewed.
2. Weigh/measure out the sugar into you mixing bowl and add in the softened butter. Combine these two ingredients with a stand/hand mixer until light and fluffy, (known as ‘creaming the butter’). You can of course do by hand with a spoon and some elbow power! See Photo 1.
3. Lightly oil the baking trays/sheets before placing baking/parchment paper on top – you only need to oil if there is no lip or edge on your baking trays/sheets, or else your cookies will fall off!
4. Place the bowl back on the scales with the sieve on top and set to zero (TARE). Weigh in the flour, cornflour (corn starch) & salt through the sieve. Mix well by hand or by machine. See Photo 2.
5. Now I like to use a Pastry Cutter for this part, it helps you incorporate the flours into the butter/sugar mixture much more easily and is quicker, (especially when your hands hurt sometimes like mine!) With the pastry cutter, you push down on the bottom of the bowl and perform a crushing and turning motion, rotating left and right. Do this to all the mixture until the butter had taken in all the flours.
Note though that the mixture will not come together into a ball at this stage. It will be very crumbly and that is fine. Otherwise you wouldn’t have the soft texture after baking. This is also why I don’t knead the dough. Try to avoid using a food processor, as it isn’t as gentle on the dough. See Photo 3.
6. Now add the orange extract, nuts and cranberries and give a good mix through. If you want to half the batch differently, now is your chance to divide the dough before adding anything extra in.
*Tip – ad some orange zest too for even more flavour.
7. Lay out a large sheet of baking/parchment paper and tip the mixture onto it, (see Photo 4) and gently bring it together into a ball and then a very rough square or rectangular shape, by using you hands and pressing down. Push in the end pieces to make sure the ends are the same height as the middle of the dough. Do this until the dough is about 1/2cm (5mm or 1/5in) thick. You can of course place baking paper on top of the dough and roll out, but I prefer to be gentler and do by hand to keep the delicate texture.
8. Now using a sharp knife, trim around the dough until you have a straight square or rectangular shape. *Note that the nuts and cranberries will make cutting harder, so make sure to go over the cuts several times before lifting. Place the scraps back in the bowl. See Photo 5.
9. Cut down the middle, and then cut ‘slabs’ as in Photo 5. These were between 1.25 & 1.5cm (approx. 1/2 in.) wide and about 8cm/3 inches long. Don’t worry if the slabs look too thin when cutting as they do expand once baking. So try to cut a little thinner than you want them to bake out at.
*Tip For Neat Biscuits – after cutting the biscuit fingers/slabs, use 2 knives and straighten the sides to make cleaner, sharper edges and sides. In the 3rd pic in Photo 5 above, I then turned some of the shortbread fingers over, and this can give a flatter top side. Be sure to not skip the chilling too.
You also could try freezing the cut biscuit fingers, before separating and transferring to the baking sheet. For about 10 minutes.
See me preparing the original Scottish Shortbread biscuit dough above.
10. Alternatively, you can also cut out shapes using this biscuit recipe. Thanks to Mrs D, (who makes lots of my recipes), who has been able to use cookie cutters and took most of the photos in this recipe for me (since mine were old and taken using a poor quality camera at that time). See in Photo 6 where she made some love hearts and snowflakes. She also made Xmas Trees for the original Shortbread recipe. Also note in these pics, that no pecans were used.
11. Now very carefully transfer them with a palette knife to the prepared baking trays\sheets. If any pieces break/fall off, carefully put back and squash together. Remember to leave a good 2.5cm/1 inch gap in-between the biscuits. Now make holes with a fork all over the slabs, but very carefully not to go too far down and break them. (This is known as ‘docking’). You can also do this before transferring if you prefer.
12. Using the scraps left over, gently squash the dough together into a ball and flatten into a disc shape, pushing up the edges to make an even thickness like before. Cut this disc of dough into equal sized slices, (I got 8 pieces). Using your thumb & index finger, pinch the ends of the round dough to give the standard shortbread decorate edging known as petticoat tails . (See Photo 7 which is of this shape of biscuit using my classic shortbread recipe. Below & in the Readers’ Pics page, you will see Sally & Vicki’s Cranberry, orange, pecan petticoat tails).
Carefully transfer the dough to the baking tray/sheet & then make holes with a fork over the dough like before. You don’t need to do this shape of biscuit. You can continue to do the slabs/fingers or roll some walnut sized balls and flatten into cookies – just make sure they are not too thin and of an equal size.
13. Place both trays in the fridge (or somewhere extra cold) for 60 minutes. If you omit this step, the shortbread will be too soft and not hold any of it’s shape. If you can’t get the baking trays into the fridge, you could try transferring to regular trays.
14. When the 30 minutes is nearly up, heat up the oven to 180c/160c Fan oven/350f/Gas Mark 4.
15. Place the 2 trays/sheets in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. You may need a little longer, but you want to take them out when the edges are just starting to turn a very pale golden colour. I turned and rotated the trays during baking to ensure an even bake. If the biscuits move when very gently pushed, they are ready. Be warned though that they are still soft, so take the trays out and leave for 5-10mins. But as soon as removing from the oven, sprinkle plenty of granulated sugar on top of the biscuits. See Photo 8.
16. After the 10 minutes, transfer (very carefully) to a cooling rack by lifting the baking/parchment paper. Leave the biscuits to cool down completely. See Photo 9.
17. Enjoy now with a cup of tea or coffee (or Whisky) or store in an airtight tin or container for several days.
Thanks for reading. Click for my Original Authentic Scottish Shortbread recipe.
READERS’ PHOTOS & FEEDBACK
Check out my page of my different shortbread recipes, made by my readers. Photos here by Sally P, & Vicki D, from a Great British Bake Off, (Great British Baking Show) Facebook group I run. To join the GBBO Fans Facebook group, be sure to answer all questions & say how you found the group.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: easy, beginner
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