This wee recipe is an excuse to show off one of my very favourite base biscuit recipes. It’s a very crumbly, delicious version of shortbread that uses ground almonds to replace part of the flour. You can use it for absolutely anything you want – empire biscuits, custard creams, jammy dodgers and more. I guarantee you’ll have near-perfect results every time. If you’ll humour me for a minute, I’ll tell you why. The reason this makes the biscuits so deliciously crumbly is because of that wonderful compound called gluten. Gluten is part of the protein content of flour, and gives every bake, from biscuits to cakes to bread, its structure. Gluten is wonderful that way, but sometimes it can be a bit too strong, and your cakes and biscuits can end up a bit tough. Especially if you overmix or knead them The almonds simply get in the way of the gluten, and stop it attaching to itself to make a big, tough structure. They also add more fat to the mix, which is never a bad thing.
First, preheat your oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas 3. Line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking paper (non-stick greaseproof paper).
Make the biscuit dough – place your sugar and soft butter in a large bowl and mix them together, just enough to combine. Add your flour and almonds and continue to mix. When it gets too hard, get your hands in there to bring it together into a dough. You can use a food processor if you like.
Wrap your dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, but up to 3 days. Whilst it is chilling, you can make the jam.
Weigh about ½ a punnet of blackberries, then write it down. Add your blackberries to a saucepan, then add their weight of caster sugar too. Mix them together to combine and place over a medium heat. Stir all the time. Bring to a simmer and make sure all the fruit has broken up, then turn the heat right down.
To test if your jam is done, take a wee spoon of it and dollop it onto a cold plate. If it sets quickly, it’s done. At this stage, remove the jam from the heat and leave to cool.
Unwrap your biscuit dough onto a floured surface and, using plenty of flour, roll it out until it’s the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut out rounds, and place them on your lined baking tray. There’s nothing wrong with re-rolling your dough.
Bake your biscuits in your preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are just starting to turn golden brown at the sides. Leave them to cool on the tray before assembly.
Assemble – spread your jam on the bottom-side of one biscuit, then sandwich with another one, squeezing the jam to edge. Use a little jam to stick a spare fresh blackberry on top. Once they are all assembled, you can either glaze the fruit with any leftover jam, or dust the whole lot with icing sugar.
For a simple filling, you could just use shop-bought jam. For an amazing extra dimension, try stirring a teaspoon or two of Amaretto into your blackberry jam as it cools.