How to make Scottish shortbread

Dec 30th

It wouldn’t be Hogmanay – Scottish New Year’s Eve – without some delicious traditional shortbread. So whip up this easy four-ingredient recipe and take it along with you to your celebrations wherever you live. Shortbread goes so well with champagne!

I live in Ashfield, Sydney, which is a long way from Scotland in so many ways. For one thing, we’re on the other side of the world and in the middle of summer and for another Ashfield is known as Little Shanghai, so there’s not much Scottish cuisine around these parts.

But the Scottish influence is everywhere, isn’t it. My grandma Jeannie Stewart brought this shortbread recipe with her from Scotland when she emigrated to Australia. She taught it to my mum Margaret who showed me how to make it. I’ve just passed on the knowledge to my 15-year-old daughter Molly, who shows you how to make the shortbread in this video.

Molly has more pedigree than me, too, as her dad, my husband Iain, is Scottish. I’ve just horrified Iain by mentioning that as much as I love shortbread I was never that partial to fruit mince pies – another staple of the Hogmanay tradition.

I’m really happy to be sharing one of my own family’s signature dishes with you. I can vouch for how simple and mouth-watering it is. You’ll never want to buy shortbread in a tin again.

The only slightly tricky thing has been converting the quantities from my grandmother’s recipe. We still use the same spoon as she did, a big beautiful silver tablespoon, which is much larger than the tablespoons we use now. I believe it’s an old imperial measure. For example, her amount for the plain flour is 12 heaped tablespoons.

Anyway, I have meticulously measured out the amounts and converted them to standard measures, something I have meant to do for a while.

So Happy New Year and let me know how you go with the recipe!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Traditional Scottish shortbread
Cuisine: Scottish
  • 250g butter, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2½ cups plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (ground rice)
  1. Cream butter and sugar
  2. In a separate bowl sift the plain flour and rice flour together then add to the creamed butter and sugar
  3. Fold the flour in till the mixture appears crumbly
  4. Then turn the dough out onto a board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes till soft
  5. Put the mixture into a lamington or slice tin. For this quantity a 26cm x 16cm tin is perfect. Push the dough to the corners of the tin using the heel of your hand then smooth the surface with the back of a wooden spoon
  6. Cut the dough into chunky pieces or dainty fingers, depending on your preference
  7. Sprinkle with caster sugar
  8. Use a fork to make a fringe around the edges, then to pierce the dough
  9. Put in an oven preheated to 180C and cook for about 30 minutes. You want the top of the shortbread to be a lovely light golden brown
  10. Recut the shorbread in the tin while hot then let the shortbread cool in the tin.
  11. Store in a tin or airtight container.
  12. It makes a great gift or you can eat it all yourself! You might find you need to make it year round and not just during the festive season.


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