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Classic Scottish Shortbread for your Christmas Cookie Tray

The Christmas cookie tray isn’t complete without a Classic Scottish Shortbread cookie.

A Classic Scottish Shortbread for your Holiday Cookie Tray | 31Daily.com

A simple and even “humble” biscuit can be the purest form of classic sweetness. Classic Scottish Shortbread is a staple in our home during the holidays. It’s always on the top of my teenage son’s Christmas cookie wish list.

Scottish Shortbread History

Once considered a festive treat at Christmas, the Scots now love their shortbread year-round. “The first shortbread recipe appeared in a Scottish cookbook dated 1736; early formulas called for yeast, but by 1850 most were utilizing only butter, flour, and sugar, combined in a ratio bakers still use.”

Mildly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flaky, easy to make, improves as it ages — a welcome accompaniment to any cookie tray, but for me, it’s absolutely perfect with a cup of tea.

If you love shortbread as much as we do… you’re in good company. Queen Victoria also loved shortbread and is said to have preferred it seasoned with salt.

Scottish Shortbread Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter
  • Sugar (superfine is best but granulated works too)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour

How to Make Classic Scottish Shortbread

There are several ways to make this Scottish Shortbread recipe. The dough fits easily into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan which I score before baking.

It’s also perfect for using shortbread molds, which I often make in a snowflake mold.

Or, I also love to shape the shortbread into petticoat tails, which are rounded discs with crimped or lined edges. But any way you shape them, they are a treat everyone will love.

Step 1: Make the Dough

Preheat the oven to 275°F and spray your baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper, which is my preferred method.

Cream the butter in a stand mixer until it is light and fluffy — about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue to cream until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add salt and vanilla and stir to combine.

Add the flour to the butter mixture and the dough comes together and is just combined.

Step 2: Shape the Dough

Press dough into a prepared pan, mold, or shape on a parchment-lined baking sheet. See notes below on shaping.

Step 3: Bake the Shortbread Cookies

Bake shortbread in a 275° oven for 60 – 75 minutes or until evenly pale golden. Cool completely. Use a serrated knife to cut.

Shaping the Shortbread

9×13-inch Pan: 

If you are using a 9×13-inch pan, score the dough lengthwise into 9 strips and then cut crosswise into 36, 3-inch strips.

Use the tins of a fork to create a perforated pattern. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.

Round Petticoat Trails on a Sheet Pan: 

If you’re shaping the shortbread into discs, divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a circular disc, smooth the top, and round the edges.

Crimp the edges with your fingers or score them with a sharp knife.

Cast Iron Skillet:

A reader recently commented that her Scottish neighbor always bakes her shortbread in a cast iron skillet. She wondered if there were any changes needed in the recipe to bake it this way.

There are some adjustments needed. This recipe will produce one 10-inch skillet batch.

If you’d like to bake your shortbread in a cast iron skillet, scroll to the very bottom of this post to the recipe card called: “Classic Scottish Shortbread Cookies in a Cast Iron Skillet.”

More Popular Cookie Recipes to Try:

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A Classic Scottish Shortbread for your Holiday Cookie Tray | 31Daily.com
A Classic Scottish Shortbread | 31Daily.com

A Classic Scottish Shortbread

Yield: 36 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Mildly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flaky, easy to make, improves as it ages -- a welcome accompaniment to any cookie tray, but for me, it's absolutely perfect with a cup of tea.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup butter (2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons), softened
  • 1 cup sugar (superfine is best but granulated works too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. There are several ways to make this Scottish Shortbread recipe. The dough fits easily into a 13" x 9" baking pan which I score before baking. It's also perfect for shortbread molds, which I often make in a snowflake mold. I also love to shape the shortbread into petticoat tails, which are rounded discs with crimped or lined edges. But any way you shape them, they are a treat everyone will love.
  2. To make the dough: Preheat the oven to 275°F and spray your baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper, which is my preferred method.
  3. Cream the butter in a stand mixer until it is light and fluffy -- about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue to cream until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add salt and vanilla and stir to combine.
  4. Add the flour to the butter mixture and the dough comes together and is just combined. Press dough into prepared pan, mold, or shape on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. 9x13-inch Pan: If you are using a 9x13-inch pan, score the dough lengthwise into 9 strips and then cut crosswise into 36, 3-inch strips. Use the tins of a fork to create a perforated pattern. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.
  6. Round Petticoat Trails on a Sheet Pan: If you're shaping the shortbread into discs, divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a circular disc, smooth the top and round the edges. And then either crimp the edges with your fingers or score them with a sharp knife.
  7. Bake: Bake shortbread in a 275° oven for 60 - 75 minutes or until evenly pale golden. Cool completely. Use a serrated knife to cut.

Notes

Shape the shortbread cookie dough directly on a parchment lined baking sheet so the dough won't need to be moved twice.

Also, handle the dough as little as possible to achieve the flakiest cookies.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 124Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 98mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g

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11 Comments

    1. Hi Beckie! That’s awesome that it worked so well with almond flour. I’d not tried it that way but am thrilled they worked. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  1. This is very crumbly. It’s in the oven now and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it won’t be when I cut it. Not sure if the butter should be salted or not.
    Bev

  2. Under the heading “Prepare baking pan” the only preparation appears to be choosing one. Should the pan be greased?

    1. Hi Donna! Thanks for your comment. My preferred method for preparing the pan is to line it with parchment paper. For molds and sometimes when I make it in a 13 x 9-inch pan, I will very lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. I’ve also updated the recipe card to be more clear. Thanks again for the question!

    1. I bake it in a cool oven for a longer period of time to achieve that flaky texture we love! Bake in a preheated 275-degree oven for 70 – 85 minutes or until it is pale golden.

      1. Absolutely! You will need to adjust the ingredients slightly and the cooking time. Essentially you’re going to cut the recipe in half to make one 10-inch skillet recipe. I’m going to update the post with this option because I like to make it this way too.

        Ingredients:
        1 cup all-purpose flour
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        12 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
        1/2 cup superfine sugar (or granulated or confectioners sugar)
        1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

        Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and very lightly butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until the dough is smooth and light. Add the flour and salt, and mix until combined. The dough will be stiff.

        Press into the skillet. Using a rubber spatula, smooth the top of the dough. Then with a fork, prick the dough in 1-inch intervals.

        Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and darker around the edges. Remove immediately from the pan and using a sharp knife, cut into wedges.

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