Mom’s Shortbreads

At the behest of the illustrious BrainRants, GranmaLadybug has graciously consented to divulge the recipe for The Scottish shortbreads we make at Christmastime, along with some tips and hints she’s learned over the years.  Rants, and anyone else who wishes to, can add this to their cookbook.  Happy baking, and eating.

1 pound best quality butter (salted)

1 1/3 cups icing sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Knead everything together until butter & icing sugar has infused the flour.

Archon’s mom taught me how to make the shortbreads by putting everything on her kitchen table. She put out the flour first, then the sugar and topped it with the butter. She kneaded it together; adding flour a little at a time as she kneaded the dough, until it showed cracks at the edge.

Her philosophy was that the heat of your hand melted the butter & sugar, and was absorbed by the flour.

I started mixing my shortbread in a large shallow bowl by hand, but when I started with arthritis in my hands, this step was done with a KitchenAid mixer.  Usually over-mixing cookies is a no-no.  This recipe only improves with over mixing, but only use a heavy-duty, slow mixer, not the smaller, faster, egg-beater style.

Pat the dough out (small amounts at a time) using the heat of your hand to smooth the dough out to about ½ inch. (DO NOT rush this step. Just use the heat of your hand to do this, and a light touch.)

You can use a wooden board, or your counter top. I use a marble board for this step.

Use a thin metal blade to get your cookie off the board onto your cookie sheet. If the dough is sticking, gradually add more flour to the dough.  If you have to use too much flour on the board you can get a floury taste to the cookie.

Now to bake:  Heat oven to 275°F (using a slow oven helps to meld the flour, sugar & butter.) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes with your oven rack in the middle of the oven.  The cookie should show a lightly browned bottom.  Most recipes say not to brown, but to us the resulting cookies have a pasty taste to them.

Mom’s always had a brown bottom, and they were so rich they made you want more.

We store the cookies in a metal tin, and they are guaranteed to go with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or just on their own.

This guarantee is not valid if you changed the amounts, rolled the dough out, used old decrepit cookie sheets…….etc.  I once shared a recipe with a neighbour.  Her cookies did not turn out because she used the bottom oven rack and really abused cookie sheets.

The quality of your utensils, and attention to detail is what will get you the best results.

Oh I forgot, you have to also infuse the cookie with a lot of love……………..tks Mom.

15 thoughts on “Mom’s Shortbreads

  1. BrainRants says:

    Behest? I just behested something? Wow. Thank you! I’m trying this one along with molasses cookies as I expand my repertoire. Luck has it I have a stand mixer and Air Bake cookie sheets.


    • Archon's Den says:

      In addition to baking, you’ve now added behesting. Your illustriousness just won’t quit! Luck favors the prepared chef. Can you handle these on your own, or would MamaRants’ smooth, warm hands help? 😕


  2. whiteladyinthehood says:

    What is “icing” sugar?


  3. shimoniac says:

    I get a Christmas hamper from my employer and for the past couple of years it has included a small pack of “Genuine Scottish Shortbreads”. I’m always up for cookies, so I tried one. How to describe them? Sweetened library paste pretty much covers it. Not the worst stuff I’ve ever eaten, but it has to come close.
    These shortbreads? Heaven.


  4. benzeknees says:

    This sounds very similar to my shortbread recipe, except mine has a bit of brown sugar in it – don’t know why, it is a small amount. But I love the melt in your mouth feel of shortbread!


  5. Shortbread is wonderful at Christmas, and you are so right when you say they go well with coffee/tea.


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