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Ayrshire Shortbread

Possibly the last thing on anyones mind when sitting down to enjoy a Burns Supper is just how economically valuable Robert Burns is to his native land. But thanks to Lesley Campbell, an economist with the World Bank, we now know that the continuing appeal of our National Bard is worth some 157 million to the Scottish economy. A remarkable figure when you consider that the Bard, on his death in 1796, left 14 in debt. But like the Elvis industry which has grown up around Gracelands, from his death onwards, the Burns cottage at Alloway became a shrine to his memory and is still a mecca to his world-wide admirers. The Burns connection is worth some 100 million to his native Ayrshire economy alone with a further 50 million or so being generated Scotland-wide through visitor spending and Burns Night fare. Supply of haggis comes into its own over the Burns season. With the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in 2009, his annual worth to the Scottish economy should be on a steeply rising curve, giving Scots yet another good reason to Toast the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.
We stay in Ayrshire for this week's recipe - Ayrshire Shortbread - a delicious shortbread which has the added delight of cream. Very appropriate as Ayrshire is famous for its milk production.
Ayrshire Shortbread
Ingredients : 8 oz (225 g) flour; 1 tbsp rice flour; 4 oz (100 g) butter; 4 oz (100 g) caster sugar; yolk of egg; 2 tbsp cream
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F/ 180 deg C or gas mark 4
Sieve the flour and rice lour together into a bowl. Rub in the butter and add sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and cream. Knead together lightly to make a fairly stiff dough. Divide into three pieces and roll into sausage-shapes about one-and-a half inch (4 cm) in diameter. Put into a cool place and leave for several hours or overnight. Cut into rounds a quarter inch thick ( 1/2 cm), place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

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