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Classic Scottish Shortbread

There is nothing more wonderful than the buttery crumbliness (yes that’s a word) of rich shortbread melting in your mouth. A cup of proper Indian chai on the side and you have a recipe for a few moments of heaven.

January 6th is known as the National Shortbread Day in several countries. While digging around online I found these interesting facts about Shortbread on The Baker’s Bite website.

The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. In medieval times, any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into 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.

  1. Shortbread is one of Scotland’s main contributions to the culinary scene, and it originated in Scotland, with the first printed recipe, in 1736, from a Scotswoman named Mrs. McLintock.
  2. Shortbread was actually defended by early Scottish bakers who fought to prevent shortbread from being classified as a biscuit to avoid paying a government tax on biscuits.
  3. Traditional shortbread comes in either rounds, fingers or “petticoat tails” which are triangles cut from a larger circle, made to resemble the petticoats which medieval ladies, like Mary Queen of Scots would have worn.

It’s actually really easy to make your own shortbread. I’m sharing a simple recipe that is extremely versatile that I got from my friend Hafsa. It’s so good I don’t remember when last I used any other.

Scottish Shortbread

Recipe credit: Hafsa Parker Healing Elements
Pic credit: @hungryforhalaal

Ingredients:
• 500 g butter
• Tiny pinch of salt
• 250 g caster sugar , plus extra for sprinkling
• 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 220 g cornstarch /cornflour

Method:
• Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas Mark 3.
• In a large bowl cream together the butter, salt and sugar. until light and fluffy and pale in colour. This can take at least 10 minutes. Alternatively use a food mixer.
• Mix together the flour and cornstarch and sieve into the bowl of butter and sugar. Mix quickly and thoroughly to bring all the ingredients together but do not over mix.
• Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and bring knead lightly and quickly to form a loose dough.
• Grease a Swiss roll tin 23 x 33cm/9″ x 13″ with butter. Press the dough into the tin and press with your fingers to level the surface, prick all over with a fork. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with castor sugar. With the shortbread still in the tin, cut into squares or fingers, leave to cool for 15 minutes then carefully remove to a wire cooling rack.
• Store in an airtight container.

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