Zest and Herbs

3, 2, 1… Cardamom shortbread!

I don’t remember where I learnt the 3:2:1 ratio for making shortbread, but I definitely didn’t invent it, and it definitely works. 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part caster sugar will give you the perfect shortbread dough in no time at all. While some recipes suggest you should swap some of the plain flour for ground rice or another gluten-free flour to help keep the biscuits short and crumbly, it’s not necessary. Inspired by the last time I made biscuits and the delicious cardamom scented coffee from Jordan I’ve been drinking lately, I added a teaspoon of ground cardamom which add a bit of spice and interest.

These are great with a cup of bitter coffee, tea and would no doubt work well with a bit of ice cream for dessert too. Don’t make them too thick though, or the outside will brown before the biscuits are cooked in the centre. If you want to make them gluten free, just swap the flour and be prepared to knead the dough much more.

Cardamom shortbread


  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (equivalent to the seeds from 1 tbsp cardamom pods)
  • 150g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp milk, or as required

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar and cardamom before adding the cubed butter and rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips. When the mixture has reached the consistency if coarse breadcrumbs, like when making pastry, add the milk (you may not need it all), bit by bit whilst continuing to mix together by hand, until the mixture comes together in a ball. Knead briefly until the dough is just smooth, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour. If you don’t like getting your hands covered in biscuit dough, you can do all this in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and roll the chilled dough onto a clean, floured surface into a long sausage-shape, about 5cm across. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into discs, no more than 5mm thick but don’t worry too much about the slices getting a bit squashed. Alternatively, roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter instead. Lay the slices onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper leaving a centimetre space between each one to allow for some spreading. If the dough has become very soft, return the biscuits to the fridge for a couple of minutes before baking them for 8-12 minutes until the edges are just beginning to brown. If you need to cook the biscuits in multiple batches, keep the dough in the fridge up until it’s ready to go in the oven.

Remove the biscuits from the tray with a palette knife and place on a wire rack to cool slightly before sprinkling with more caster sugar. Makes 16-24 depending on how big you decide to make them.

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