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.
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.
A Classic Scottish Shortbread
• 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
Prepare baking pan. I make these in several forms. Perfect in a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and cut into fingers, or in molds (I have a snowflake mold I use every time it snows) … or shaped into petticoat tails – rounded discs with crimped edges. Most often I line a baking sheet with parchment paper and shape the dough directly on the paper so it needn’t be moved.
Note: Handling the dough as little as possible will give you a flakier cookie.
Preheat oven to 275-degrees.
Cream 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 flour to the butter mixture in 1-cup increments until it is just combined.
Press dough into prepared pan, mold, or baking sheet. If you are using a 13″ x 9″ pan, score the dough lengthwise into 9 strips and then cut crosswise into 3-inch strips. Use the tins of a fork to create a perforated pattern. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 275-degrees for 70 – 85 minutes or until evenly pale golden. Cool completely. Use serrated knife to cut.