origin, this rich, tender and crumbly straw colored biscuit (cookie) was
once only served during Christmas and New Year's Eve (Hogmanay). The classic proportions of one part sugar to two parts butter to three
parts flour were mixed together and placed in a lightly floured 8
inch (20 cm) round wooden mold carved with a thistle. The
dough-filled mold was then inverted onto a baking sheet, released from
the mold, and baked in a slow oven.
Once baked, the shortbread was cut into wedges that were given the name
"petticoat tails". This name was derived because the shape of the
shortbread wedges was similar to the bell-hoop petticoats worn by court
ladies in the 12th century.
shortbread cookies are made and enjoyed year round and their ingredients
have gone far beyond the original recipe of butter, sugar and flour. Flavorings added now include extracts, chocolates, nuts, spices, dried
fruits, and citrus zests. Rice flour, corn flour (cornstarch),
semolina can replace some of the flour to change the texture.
The quality of your shortbread is dependent on the quality of your
ingredients, especially the butter. This is not the time to skimp.
Buy the best quality unsalted butter you can find and you will be
rewarded with a crispy, crumbly, buttery morsel that literally melts in
to be baked in a slow oven (around 300 degrees F) (150 degrees C) and
the tops of the shortbreads are usually pierced with a fork so they bake
more evenly and you do not get air bubbles forming on the baked surface.
Even with piercing the surface of the cookie, you may still get some
wrinkling but this is normal. If you bake the shortbread just
until set the shortbread will be very tender and crumbly. Baking 5
- 10 minutes longer will produce a firmer shortbread as it removes
additional moisture and gives the shortbread a longer shelf life.
baked in round wooden molds notched at the edges to signify the sun's
ray, today molds are also made of ceramic and come in many different
sizes and shapes, many with decorative designs. The molds need to
be dusted with flour or powdered sugar before filling with the
shortbread dough to ensure easy release of the dough from the mold. It is also a good idea to place the mold in the refrigerator for 15
minutes to firm up the dough before inverting onto a baking sheet and
removing the mold. This ensures the design will retain its shape
molds, shortbreads can also be formed into fingers and rounds. Fingers are rectangular shaped pieces that are
scored and pierced before
baking. The dough is patted into a rectangular shaped pan and then
marked (scored) with a knife into evenly spaced pieces. Each piece
is pierced with the tines of a fork and then chilled. Once baked,
the shortbread is easily divided into pieces.
rounds (also known as highlanders) come in many different sizes, some
with notched edges. The dough is chilled, evenly rolled out on a
lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin, and then cut into
rounds using a lightly flour cookie cutter. The rounds are chilled
and then baked.
is the name given when one end of the baked shortbread is dipped into
melted chocolate. Millionaire shortbread is a bar cookie that has
a shortbread base, caramel flavored middle layer and topped with melted
Rice flour is
used in recipes to give the shortbread a more crumbly and tender
texture. It is a fine gluten-free flour produced from white or
brown rice. It can be found in some grocery stores or else health
food stores. If the recipe contains 2 cups (280 grams) of all
purpose flour, try replacing approximately 1/4 cup (35 grams) of the all
purpose flour with rice flour.
flour) is also used in shortbread recipes to produce a more delicate and
fragile cookie. You can replace up to 25% of the total amount of
flour used in the recipe with cornstarch.