Year of Food and Drink 2015
The Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015 begins with January's theme of traditional Scottish foods.
January is an important month for celebrating the country's rich and abundant culinary customs, with many traditions taking place during the first month of the year:
- Offering black bun or shortbread to the 'first footer' on Hogmanay
- The first steak pie of the year on New Year's Day
- Addressing the haggis at a Burns Supper.
Recipe of the month from the Library's collections: Shortbread
Shortbread has been associated with Scotland for centuries.
The earliest recipes were a plain mixture of butter and flour, as sugar was a luxury only the wealthy could afford.
shortbread around 1927.
Traditional Scottish shortbread is a rich mix of butter and flour with generous quantities of sugar. Historically, it was served at afternoon tea and on special occasions like Hogmanay, weddings and Christmas.
Recipes were often enriched with candied fruit, nuts, seeds and spices, as shown in this 19th century recipe from Fife army wife Sarah Reddie.
8ozs Carraway comfits [see note]
3ozs candied citron or orange peel
Mix the flour, sugar, comfits and candied peel together then add the butter. When the paste is made roll it out the thickness of half an inch, cut it into cakes, place them on white paper, prick & bake them.
This is all Sarah provided in her recipe. Before Mrs Beeton and her ground-breaking 'The book of household management' of 1861, it was unusual to separate the list of ingredients and give detailed instructions for cooking and baking. Here is how we suggest you proceed:
Score lines on the shortbread and bake for approximately an hour at 160°C (320°F or gas mark 3) until light brown. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with caster sugar and cut into bars.
Note: Sarah added 'Carraway comfits'. Although an unusual ingredient in modern times, these sugar-coated seeds were popular in England from the Tudor era. Tiny caraway seeds were coated with 30 or 40 layers of sugar syrup in a time-consuming and sticky cooking process. For a healthier and simpler option, add caraway seeds alone.