I could come up with all kinds of excuses about why I didn’t get this out before Christmas for your baking pleasure, but I’ll just cut to the chase; I lagged. So, in all its glory, here’s my family recipe for good old fashioned Scottish Shortbread Cookies. We’ve been baking and eating these at Christmas for as long as I can remember, and this is pretty much the only thing I really bake anymore. Not that I have anything against baking, but if you bake it, you eat it, and then you know how that story ends…not enough gym time on the planet to make up for all this buttery goodness.
So, my great grandparents hailed from Scotland, and this is the old school recipe. It’s legit, trust me. This is no Costco tub of “shortbread”, this is the real deal. So, if you’re up for the challenge, I dare you to bust these lovely little babes out and impress all your friends and family with your Scottish baking prowess.
What you need:
1/2 lb butter, softened (get the good stuff, and salted, always salted)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour (give or take)
*Note: I usually double this to make one batch, and then make 2 to 4 double batches to cover all the shortbread-needy people in my life.
**Warning: If you start making this on the regular, the quantity of shortbread-needy people in your life will increase exponentially.
What to do:
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Slowly add the flour. This is all about texture at this point. What my great grandmother used to say was “you want the texture to be that of large peas”. Now, you can take that however you want, but I go with smallish chunks. You’re going to be “loafing” the dough, and the dryer it is the more difficult the loafing process is, so if you’re new to loafing, add a bit less flour until you get your loafing technique down.
Pull out a long sheet of waxed paper on the countertop and turn out 1/4 – 1/3 of the dough onto the paper. Carefully fold the paper over the dough and use it to form a log/loaf of sorts. Keep working the dough until it’s evenly loafed and smooth. Cut the loaf into slices, about 3/4″ wide.
***Another note: You can get crazy with this recipe and add other flavors/textures. I’ve used cardamom, lemon zest, orange zest, toasted hazelnuts, toasted almonds, chocolate, white chocolate, etc. to create all kinds of different flavor profiles. Not sure that’s what the O.G. shortbread bakers would have wanted, but it inspires creativity, so go for it!