A homemade shortbread recipe

I LOVE shortbread! It’s buttery, crumbly and homely goodness just makes me want to reach for the biscuit tin!

I thought, why am I not making this retro classic more often? Then I decided to research this buttery classic a little further…

The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened in to a type of rusk: the word ‘biscuit’ means ‘twice cooked’. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.

Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, it was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as, weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. In Scotland it’s still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year, a favourite of my Grandfather’s.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes, one large circle divided into segments – petticoat tails, individual round biscuits – shortbread rounds or a thick rectangular slab cut into fingers. Which is your favourite?

Here is my recipe for shortbread – cups of tea at the ready!


  • 125g of butter
  • 55g caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • 180g of plain flour


  1. Heat the oven to 190˚c.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Place on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick.
  4. Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Thoughts from the Eat & Breathe kitchen

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