I am starting to discover that I quite like breaking the rules every now and then with baking. Only using plain flour instead of self raising in a cake – how wrong! Swapping Maldon sea salt flakes for rock salt – sacrilege! Adding pepper and an egg to a basic shortbread mix – just get out.
I have to admit that breaking the fundamental rules of flavour matching in baking are one of the most fun things to do with this blog – simply picking up an ingredient and thinking ‘what will go well with this I wonder’ is enough to get the creative juices flowing. But I had purchased a little tub of fuchsia-pink peppercorns a few months ago and they have been languishing in my cupboard depressingly ever since. Until Christmas day, when the Pease family broke the rules and switched up the starter to a trio of salmon with a pink peppercorn and fennel dressing. Rule broken, I knew I had to get baking.
I have to admit that this particular flavour combination is not my own; the inspiration came from a throwaway tweet from Edd Kimber, also known as The Boy Who Bakes, who spoke of the flavour trio. I filed it away under the to-bake list, but the rule breaking baking was calling and soon I devised my own recipe to offer an alternative to tasty, but boring plain shortbread.
Purists may say this isn’t proper shortbread as I have added an egg yolk to the mix, but with all the smash bang of flavours and textures going on in this biscuit, a little richness to bring it all together is hardly dishonourable, rather it adds to the fusion of flavours in these treats. Each bite brings a different sensation, a crumbly buttery base (sing it now), a crunch of white chocolate and a spicy note of pink pepper, all the while a hint of rosewater hums in the background. This isn’t your standard tartan-tin shortbread, this is 21st century cool shortbread. Breaking the baking rules indeed.
Inspired by Edd Kimber
You Will Need
225g plain flour
75g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 tbsp pink peppercorns
90g white chocolate, chopped
2-3 drops rosewater
1 egg yolk
Preheat an oven to 180oc/160oc fan/ gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt then rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a mortar and pestle, grind the peppercorns finely then add to the mix with the white chocolate and rosewater drops. Stir with your hands then add the egg yolk to bind the mix.
Lightly flour a work surface and tip the shortbread on top, bringing together with your hands and flattening out to around 1cm in thickness. The mix will be very crumbly so take care and don’t over knead or your biscuits will lose their shortness. Cut out biscuits with a 7cm round cutter and place on the baking sheet. Repeat and re-knead until you have around 12 biscuits. Bake in the oven for around 18-20 minutes until golden round the edges. Leave to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before removing and leave to cool on a wire rack until completely cold.