Shortbread is a type of cookie which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts plain white flour, although other ingredients like ground rice or cornstarch are sometimes added to alter the texture. Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter. The related word “shortening” refers to any fat that may be added to produce a short (crumbly) texture.
Shortbread is generally associated with and originated in Scotland, but due to its popularity it is also made in the remainder of the United Kingdom, and similar biscuits are also made in Denmark, Ireland and Sweden. The Scottish version is the best-known, and Walkers Shortbread is Scotland’s largest food exporter.
Shortbread was chosen as the United Kingdom’s representative for Café Europe during the 2006 Austrian presidency of the European Union.
Scottish chef John Quigley, of Glasgow’s Red Onion, describes shortbread as “the jewel in the crown” of Scottish baking.
3 cups (384 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (225 g) butter
1/2 cup (115 g) sugar
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift the flour and salt into the mixture and work into the fat and sugar until completely amalgamated.
Shape the dough into a ball and roll out to about ½ inch thick.
Cut into squares or rectangles and prick the tops with a fork in two parallel lines.Bake at 275ºF/135ºC for 30 to 40 minutes or until the shortbread is lightly browned.
Leave them on a cake rack to cool.
Store in a cool place in an airtight container.