Caraway Shortbread

Medieval-inspired Caraway Shortbread

I have slightly adapted this recipe from the traditional Medieval Spiced Caraway Seed Shortbread.  During the Medieval period celebrations on St Catherine's Day (November 25th) signified the arrival of Winter.  One of the traditional customs of the day included the sharing of a sweet biscuit made with caraway seeds, oranges and currants – these were known as Wiggs – taken from the spokes of the Catherine Wheel, a wedge shape cut from a wheel.

3 cups plain flour

½ cup golden caster sugar

1 cup butter

1 ½ tablespoons caraway seeds

¼ cup currants

Zest of an orange

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch of salt

Additional sugar for sprinkling

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

Cream the butter and sugar well, ensuring the sugar is dissolved.  Add the spices, orange zest and seeds and combine well.

Fold through the flour and the currants, add a little orange juice if the dough is too stiff.  Knead the dough for at least 2-3 minutes, then chill for 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and knead again for about 5 minutes, then press down onto a flat pizza tray or other round dish.

Sprinkle over the additional sugar, and press gently into the surface.

Partially cut the 'wheel' into spokes or thin wedges which can then be broken when cooked or alternatively (if you want to ensure a clean cut) cut them all the way through, but still cook in the round.

Bake for around 45 minutes, or until quite golden.  Allow to cool completely before eating.

These biscuits taste beautifully spicy and actually improve over a couple of days as they store well.