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Home Made Scottish Shortbread

Updated on September 13, 2014

Traditional shortbread mould

Traditional shortbread mould
Traditional shortbread mould | Source

Scottish Shortbread Family Recipe

If I was asked for one recipe that reminds me of my childhood more than any other, it would be this one. Here I'm sharing a family recipe for Scottish Shortbread plus everything you need to make some great cookies.

This was one of my favourite treats at Christmas and the New Year. This is a recipe my grandmother used to make. Traditionally it is one part sugar to two parts butter to three parts flour and shaped in a wooden mould carved with a thistle. At one time it was only served at Christmas and New Year because butter was so expensive. Now of course it is a popular modern biscuit (cookie) with lots of variations on the basic recipe. Below you will find recipes for some modern versions.

For me though, home made shortbread will continue to be a treat. My father carved several wood shortbread moulds for my mother, sadly they didn't survive, but my memories do! I grew up in the 1950 when things were still difficult after the Second World War so shortbread, being rich in butter, was a treat we didn't get often. Despite the ready available supply these days, I still think of it as a treat and Christmas and New Year would not be the same without it. So, if you get a gift of shortbread from me at Christmas you know it means something special.

Image credit: shortbread mould

Traditionally Scottish shortbread is 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour. My grandmother always used a mix of flour and cornflour which gives the shortbread a lovely smooth texture while the rich butter mix makes it deliciously crumbly enough to melt in the mouth. Do not over-handle and make sure your hands and your bowl are cold when you work the dough.

Don't be tempted to replace the butter with a low fat or fat reduced version - it just doesn't work and won't taste the same. This is one of the few recipes when I never make a low-fat version.

If you don't have a mould, just press down onto a baking tray and cut into fingers or cut into rounds with a cutter. It should be at least half an inch deep for the best results.

Store in a tin - for some reason it always tastes better when stored in a tin rather than in plastic. Will keep for long periods.


  • Prep time: 20 min
  • Cook time: 30 min
  • Ready in: 50 min
  • Yields: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 oz caster sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 5 oz flour
  • 1 oz cornflour
  • pinch salt
Cast your vote for Scottish Shortbread Recipe

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 140°C (280°F or Gas mark 2).
  2. With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl cream sugar and butter until it is pale and creamy.
  3. Sift flour and cornflour and salt into the bowl and mix completely.
  4. Press into wooden mould - use the back of a wooden spoon to even it out
  5. Turn it out onto a greased baking tray or greased proof paper
  6. Bake in slow oven - 140°C (280°F or Gas mark 2). for 30 minutes or until golden brown
Sassafras Round Holiday Shortbread Mold
Sassafras Round Holiday Shortbread Mold

A mold is always a good idea if you are making shortbread although baking it flat is fine too.

 

A Biscuit Tin for your Shortbread

Vintage Blue & White Dancing Ladies Pattern - Biscuit Tin - Made In England
Vintage Blue & White Dancing Ladies Pattern - Biscuit Tin - Made In England

Any biscuit or cookie made with lots of butter keep better when kept in tin rather than plastic, time allows the flavors to blend and mature. This is a great biscuit tin to keep your Scottish shortbread in.

 

Shortbread as a gift

More and more people are turning to home-made alternatives to expensive gifts - maybe it is because I am getting older, but they mean much more to me than that boxed set of lavender bath salts.

Home made shortbread is ideal because it keeps so well, in fact it gets better kept for a week or so.

You can pack it in any container, a box like the one above is lovely but if you don't want to spend that much, wrap in muslin with a pretty bow or use an empty jar you have saved. Even a pretty napkin can serve. All you need to do is use your imagination. There are lots of place on-line that give you advice on gift wrapping including this one from Stephanie Lynn with 50 different ideas. I'm sure there is one to suit you in that lot.

How to wrap your shortbread as a gift

Scottish Shortbread

history

Shortbread started in medieval times and was known as "biscuit bread" - leftover dough was baked again in a low-heat oven until it was hard - hence the name 'biscuit' for 'twice baked'. If the yeast was replaced with butter, the result became shortbread. For many, including my family in the 1950s, shortbread was a luxury because butter was expensive. It used to be served only for Christmas and New Year, being a traditional gift to bring to someone's house when you visited during the holidays. Some say that the shortbread round symbolises the sun.


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Around the world

Walkers Pure Butter Assorted Shortbread Cookie, 58.4 Ounce
Walkers Pure Butter Assorted Shortbread Cookie, 58.4 Ounce

Walkers is a well known, well loved brand that send shortbread all around the world. A taste of Scotland available where ever you were.

 

© 2010 Ann

have you enjoyed visiting my Scottish shortbread page?

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    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      My husband and I both love Scottish shortbread. I even have a shortbread mold with carved designs including the traditional thistle, if I recall correctly. Thanks so much for sharing your grandmother's recipe. Pinned!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Scottish shortbread - yum, yum. Pinned to my cookies board.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I love Scottish shortbread (from time to time I buy some Walkers shortbread). I am sure the home made version is much better. I must try.

    • TheBonchy profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago from Australia

      Oh yum, thanks for sharing your Gran's recipe. I'm in bed with a flu right now and reading this has given me an insane craving for biscuits.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I love Walkers shortbread, but it's a rare treat. I'd weigh 20 pounds more if I indulged my sweet tooth. I have a friend who is from Scotland and she uses a similar shortbread recipe. She also makes amazing scones. I'll have to try this on a rainy day -- my mould is a sunflower and up 'til now it's just been a decoration.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Yum! I have to try this. I wish we could still bookmark and favorite pages Squidoo because I would add this one to my favorites.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wish I was a baker, I'm more of the cooker where I throw a lot of stuff together and bring all the tastes together but wish I had the patience to bake, that's usually my wife's role.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've always loved shortbread, not sure if I've had it with corn flour but it sounds like a good ingredient to add.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've always loved shortbread, not sure if I've had it with corn flour but it sounds like a good ingredient to add.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Mmm, yes, I can almost taste the shortbread!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I adore Scottish shortbread. My daughter made some for me at Christmas and mailed it to me, but something must have gone wrong, because it was so hard I couldn't bite it! Maybe I should send her the link for this recipe. :-) Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How special that you share your family recipe for Scottish Shortbread, I can feel the love that you put into it. I've only had the traditional Scottish Shortbread and and was always struck by the simple and delicious beauty of them. Your grandmother's use of cornflower sounds even more special with that wonderful 'melt in your mouth' that got me ready to try a few!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Oh, I can't wait to make some shortbread! I have several molds to use, but didn't have a quick easy recipe. Now I do, thanks!

    • EveStock profile image

      EveStock 5 years ago

      thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      NidhiRajat 5 years ago

      yummy and delicious taste

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 5 years ago

      I love shortbread, thank you

    • annieangel1 profile image
      Author

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @JJNW: thanks so much

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      Yummy-sounding, beautiful, mouthwatering lens. MMMmmmmmmm! *** SquidAngel Blessed *** (I wanna go to Scotland!!!!!!!!!!)

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      Never tried it, but it sounds good.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 6 years ago

      I can't resist it! And I am supposed to avoid carbs - you tempter, you!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      love it! and I will be trying this!

    • Cinnamonbite profile image

      Cinnamonbite 6 years ago

      I've never been able to get the shortbread out of the fancy molds. I eventually threw them away and make it in a simple casserole pan now. That firm tap to make it fall out-nope.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice Squidoo. Its very interesting what folks write ans share. Chris

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I do love shortbread, but rarely eat it these days because it's so fattening. I have to make sure to savour every mouthful and let the taste linger.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 6 years ago from New York

      I love shortbread. It is my most favorite cookie. They are to me my "comfort dessert" no matter what time of the year it is!

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I love shortbread but I had no idea it was so easy to make and with such few ingredients.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Sounds super yummy~

    • annieangel1 profile image
      Author

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @clouda9 lm: thank you so much

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 6 years ago

      I am like you, shortbread is a treat, especially during the holidays. My [Recipes] Angel Blessing today is SWAH :)

    • annieangel1 profile image
      Author

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @Missmerfaery444: thanks so much

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 6 years ago

      Yum yum yum, Scottish shortbread is the best! Super lens.

    • annieangel1 profile image
      Author

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @Ann Hinds: thanks Ann x

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      Another lens that I will bless for food. I love shortbread but didn't know how to make it. Thanks

    • annieangel1 profile image
      Author

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      @ChrisDay LM: thanks Chris

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Favourited this lens

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love shortbread - I spent Hogmanay in Edinburgh with my Scottish B.F. many years ago, and developed a taste for it. There's nothing like Scottish shortbread and Scottish smoked salmon.......(the alcoholic boyfriend I sent back)