A holiday classic: Scottish shortbread

December 1, 2011
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Natalie Timperio

Senior InsideOut Editor

‘Tis the season to be jolly – in the stomach, that is – and there is little better than holiday treats.

If you’re in the spirit, or simply searching for an excuse not to study, then why not bake one of the season’s most popular of desserts?

Scottish shortbread is renowned for its buttery goodness. While it’s not one of the healthiest of desserts (then again, what dessert is?), it is one of the most delicious, and promises to be a favourite among friends and family this holiday season.

While Scottish shortbread requires some technicality – and I know this from experience – it’s nothing that can’t be mastered with a little bit of practice. Plus, it’ll give you an excuse to eat all the not-so-perfect batches.

Aside from its deliciousness, Scottish shortbread is well-suited for even the pickiest of palettes.

Lacking “weird” colours and textures – cough, cough, fruit bread – this dessert is sure to satisfy almost anyone. And while primarily consisting of butter, it’s not the heaviest of desserts either, so it won’t leave you with that bloated feeling like other holiday treats.

Scottish shortbread is probably best paired with coffee or tea, particularly after a heavy dinner like those served during the holidays. Other than that, it’s one of those desserts best left to be enjoyed by itself over and over again.

It’s flakey goodness will you leave you siphoning crumbs from the table – literally. Just try to do so when no one’s watching, or else it can make for some awkward holiday moments and candid photos that you will regret years later.

Scottish shortbread is also wallet-friendly, as its ingredients are relatively inexpensive, consisting of really only a few items, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet.

That makes for convenience as well; avoiding long line-ups in the grocery store is sure to save you some stress.

I suggest the Bulk Barn for these ingredients, as you’ll be tempted to replenish your stock of Scottish shortbread in no time at all, or, at the very least, you’ll reuse these same ingredients for another dessert recipe.

If you want to make your Scottish shortbread extra special, try sprinkling sugar or adding maraschino cherries to top it off. Personally, I enjoy it best plain.

While there are many variations of the Scottish shortbread recipe, this one comes right from my grandma’s kitchen, and I promise you, it is much better than store-bought Walker’s shortbread.



1 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

3 1/4 cup sifted cake flour



1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Sift the flour; use a spoon to fill the measure and level with knife.

3. Cream the butter and sugar with a fork until it looks like peanut butter.

4. Work in the flour 1 cup at a time (and use the extra 1/4 cup to flour the counter), slowly mixing until the mixture cracks when kneaded. Do not add more flour if it is still soft. Instead, cool it in the fridge until it’s easy to handle.

5. Take portions of the dough and press with your palm on counter until its 1/3 inch thick.

6. Cut it in squares and pierce it with a fork.

7. Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or when cookie bottom shows light brown.

8. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes, and then place the squares on a wire rack to cool completely.


From my grandmother’s kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Scottish shortbread recipe.

Most importantly, I wish you the happiest of holidays this season!

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