Fennel seed shortbread



I really, honestly think that I’ll never be able to eat a normal piece of shortbread ever again since inadvertently adding fennel seeds to a classic shortbread recipe. It’s incredible.

Fennel seed, if you’ve not used it before, is a woody little seed, tastes a bit aniseedy, a bit toasty and a bit sweet. Indians eat sweet fennel seeds en masse, after dinner, coated and coloured in bright sugary shells as a digestive – I have been eating in the same manner, well, en masse and after dinner.


Fennel seed shortbread

Yields – 12 biscuits


  • 350g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 250g cold unsalted butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons of fennel seeds

Sift the flour into a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour – using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs and all the butter has been worked through the flour. Add the sugar and knead into a ball. Wrap the ball in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins.

The dough will be harder when you take it out but it should still be malleable. Lay it on a sheet of grease proof paper and work out, slowly, using the palm of your hand  – once you’ve got it to a reasonable size, roll out to 2cm and put into an oven tray.

Bake for 25 mins on 160 degree – it should be pale. Lightly sprinkle a handful of sugar on the biscuits when hot, the sugar will stick then – and cut them into biscuits.



4 thoughts on “Fennel seed shortbread

  1. I had these at a restaurant recently, with pickled strawberry and chevre cheese. Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try it at home!

    1. Hello Carol, let me know how you get on. I’m just about to try the fennel seeds in ice-cream, I think they’ll work really well. Which restaurant did you have them in, I love the sound of pickled strawberries and chevre.

  2. I’ve made this from your book and it is amazing – just noticed though that in the instructions here on the website you don’t toast or actually add the fennel seeds!

    1. Do you toast the fennel seeds first then and then incorporate them into the mixture? Is this done in the oven or in a pan on the stove?

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