The technique remains fairly similar for this related trio. The key thing seems to be to make sure that the ingredients don't get too warm while they are being prepared. Fanny says to mix them on a cold surface. I use a chilled bowl as I don't have the marble work tops installed Chez Cradock. First take the butter - which can be squeezed vigorously through a clean cloth if it's a little liquidy, eek I'm not sure but I'll skip this, it sounds messy - and the sugar together. Work them up with a small knife in each hand. Chop chop. It's Fannys favourite technique, and it's a little like fencing. Not that I've ever tried fencing, but I'm imagining. Keep chopping away until they are well combined, simple as that, making sure that the 'warmth of the human hand' goes nowhere near it, as the butter will 'oil'. Some would say that Fanny had no human warmth of course.
After some furious chopping the flour is added in gradually. More chopping. It's really quite good fun (maybe actual fencing is too?) but I reckon you could give it a quick whizz in the food processor and achieve the same result. No fun though. For the 'Standard Shortbread' it's a mix of self-raising flour and Rice Flour, but for the 'Scotch' version no Rice Flour is used. The chopping results in a crumb-like mix, and this is Fannys cue to us all to stop. Check your hands, not for cleanliness, but for warmth again. If you have been furiously fencing with the knives as explained your hands may be hot, so plunge them in a bath of ice cold water before proceeding. Brrrrr.
For both shortbreads, the crumbs need to be pushed into butted and floured moulds to bring them together. Cold hand remember. For the Scotch version I'm using an oblong dish and to complete the Saltire Flag 'illusion' I sprinkle on some blue sugar before baking. Fanny prefers to decorate them after baking with holly leaves made of fondant, and ONLY AT CHRISTMAS (because presumably it's too costly at other times of the year) a thick dusting of icing sugar. That sifter is never far from Fannys warm almost human hand at this time of year. The 'Orange Shortcake' is altogether different.
The ingredients are different for a start - quite a bit of baking powder is added to the already lifted self-raising flour, with salt, an egg yolk and orange juice joining the sugar and butter. It's all chopped together in the same way, with the orange juice being added gradually until it forms a paste. I added some harmless food colouring to the juice to make it even more orange-y. Fanny warns that the amount of juice you will need to add depends completely on the size of your egg yolk, so please do not 'slop on regardless'. Give the paste a quick knead, roll it out either into one big circle or cut into fun shapes. I've gone for a selection of Halloween ones, ghouls, pumpkins and cats which don't really look like cats, and therefore don't feature in the finished photo. I reckon Fanny would like it, keeping up the cold, inhuman feel. The final results are as ever great. All three shortbreads are light and the orange ones are puffy, but still buttery, slightly crunchy and crumbly. The orange ones aren't very orange-y, but still taste good. Maybe some orange icing would help. Or fondant. Or orange flavoured icing sugar thickly sifted. Not that likely to spook my fellow country folk at all are they?