1.5 oz dried semolina
3.5 oz bere barley flour
8 oz butter
5 oz castor sugar
and a pinch of salt.
I make shortbread biscuits regularly with my 3 year old granddaughter Ellie, who loves making a mess and ‘helps’ me.
Shortbread biscuits can be a bit dense so I always use self-raising flour (or a mixture of SR and plain flour). I usually add semolina to give a slight crunchiness to the biscuit. However, I had only a small amount in the bottom of the packet. So, I substituted bere barley for the semolina.
The resulting dough was too dry and so extra milk (or buttermilk to be more traditional) was added – about 2 tablespoons – so the dough could be rolled easily without it breaking up.
What to do
Preheat oven to 150 C or gas mark 2. Melt the butter or soften in the oven for a few minutes then cream the butter and sugar together ( use a hand held electric whisk) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add all the dry ingredients, then mix again. Add milk to make the dough stick together.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and then use cutters to make the biscuits into rounds or other shapes. Transfer to a greased baking tray or use baking paper and make small pricks in the biscuits using a fork.
Bake for 20 min then turn the trays around and bake for a further 20 minutes. Remove the biscuits when they are a light golden brown. This makes a good 40 biscuits or so, depending on the size of the cutter. Cool them (if you can) before eating!
Add a handful of dried cranberries or sultanas to the mixture before you roll it out. Little helpers love doing this, but often eat the fruit before it gets into the biscuit mixture!
Comments from the tasting panel
“Shortbread can lack body. The beremeal gives it serious character.”
“Good cohesive strength when wet – doesn’t disintegrate between tea-mug and mouth.”
“A real biscuit – you can taste the bere.”
“Can’t stop eating them…”
Recipe by Grannie Kate
Beremeal from Barony Mills Orkney
Links to pages on this web site:
The bere line – further links and pages on the history and uses of bere barley
Landrace 1 – bere – for information on the Orkney bere landrace
Bere, bear, bair, beir, bygg – variation on the name in Old Scots