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Three Chimneys Shortbread

This week we will be celebrating one of the most important days in the Celtic calendar, the fire festival of Beltane. Beltane, named after Bel a Celtic diety, falls on 1 May and from ancient times celebrated the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. It was traditionally the day that cattle were moved to the sheilings for summer pasture and was a time of romance for young couples, all allied to celebration of fire.

Beltane is still celebrated in the 21st century and the largest celebration is held in Edinburgh where thousands will gather on Calton Hill on 30 April to remember more ancient times. The evening begins with a procession to the hill top by people dressed as the May Queen and the Green Man. These are ancient God and Goddess figures representing fertility and growth. The May Queen crowns the Green Man, and winter ends as his winter costume is taken from him and he is revealed in spring colours. A wild dance takes place and the Green Man and the May Queen then marry. The ancient fire element of Beltane is represented by torchbearers carrying ‘purifying’ flames. Visit for full details of Beltane Edinburgh 2007.

In days langsyne the smoke from Edinburgh lums gave rise to the by-name of Auld Reekie for our capital city, and we can remember the chimneys of Edinburgh and the fires of Beltane whilst enjoying a piece of Three Chimneys Shortbread.

Three Chimneys Shortbread

Ingredients:  13oz/375g plain flour; 4oz/125g white rice flour; 13oz/375g slightly salted butter; 4oz/125g cater sugar

Method:  Pre-heat oven to 190 deg C/375 deg F/ Gas Mark 5

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Work the sifted flour and rice flour into the creamed mixture until it forms a firm paste. Knead it lightly on a well-floured board. Roll it out until quite thin and cut biscuits with cutter of your choice. Using a palette knife lift the biscuits onto a well-buttered baking sheet and prick with a fork. Bake on the centre shelf of a moderate oven, until pale and golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar while still warm. Lift on to wire tray to cool and firm up. Important – store in an airtight tin.

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