Shortbread. The Scotts claimed to have ‘invented’ shortbread in the 12th century that evolved from medieval biscuit bread. This biscuit bread was a twice-baked enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a rusk. Eventually butter was substituted for yeast and it became shortbread, melting in your mouth. Since butter was and still is such an important ingredient the word ‘shortbread’ derived from shortening. Shortening being fat. No wonder this biscuit is high in fat content. But we’ll forget about that little fact when we eat it!
Apparently shortcake, not the same as shortbread, can be made by using vegetable fat instead of butter as well as using something like baking powder. So shortbread is typically one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. To alter the texture corn flour or even ground rice is sometimes added. Shortbread biscuits are also great to take away because they hold their shape under pressure, unlike their egg-based cousin biscuits – so ideal for a packed lunch!
When our two daughters were still toddlers my mom gave me this biscuit-book as a gift – thoughtful granny!!! And I think between us we have made most of the recipes in the book – and still do!
So with your mouths watering I’ll give you a shortbread recipe from this book called Butter Finger Biscuits. It is delicious and you can also make it as a yummy homemade gift for someone special. Just wrap some nice cellophane around it with a colourful ribbon!
300g butter, softened
180g castor sugar
400g flour (sifted)
Pinch of salt
100g corn flour sifted
Castor sugar for dredging
- Cream together butter and castor sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Sift together flour, salt and corn flour and mix into creamed ingredients. Knead lightly.
- Press into deep, greased 380mm by 280mm baking tray.
- Prick well with a fork and bake at 190 degrees C, 25 – 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and dredge with castor sugar.
- Cut into fingers while still warm.
- Remove to wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container. Makes about 44 fingers.