Edinburgh was recently honoured with a special delegation of Turkish officials accompanying President Gül on a visit to Scotland’s capital. The Signet Library was lucky enough to host the spouses of the delegates on Sunday morning – and deliver a session on Scottish baking.
On Sunday morning the lower library was transformed into a veritable test kitchen with delegates’ spouses learning to make that most Scottish of delicacies – shortbread! With sun streaming through the windows of the Upper Library cook stations were set up– with full kit arranged for each trainee baker. The morning kicked off with a full demonstration by our always charming Executive Development Chef, Robbie Gleave. After watching the pro and noting top tips the guests made their way to their own fully prepped workbenches, donned aprons and got busy sifting, sprinkling and mixing – keeping the butter chilled at all costs.
Creativity was encouraged with flavours that were both delicious and unusual. Tonka beans, hazelnuts and lemon were just some of the options with different toppings such as lavendar, rose petals and, that traditional favourite, Malteasers! Not content with the plain old square or round these bakers showed their stuff with stars, hearts, ducks, fish and even the occasional horse shaped shortbread!
It’s often said that the best cultural exchanges are culinary and there was certainly a warm feeling to the day. Many guests spoke of their own favourite recipes and times spent cooking and baking with their families. One attendee, whose son has coeliac disease, was encouraged to try a gluten free shortbread recipe with fantastic results.
Shaped and arranged on trays, the shortbread was whisked downstairs to the kitchen for baking. The homely smell of butter and sugar wafting through the elegant Signet Library was a delightful sign that all was going well. Each attendee went home with a charming bag of moreish handmade shortbread and a morning spent making new friends – nothing says a trip to Scotland better!