Shortbread

Two slices of shortbread on a wooden board, with ribbon, a cup of tea and a dried protea flower in the background.

For me, December isn’t December without some Christmas baking. Growing up in those weeks leading up to December the 25th there was always a supply of rumballs, white Christmas, and shortbread stored in baking paper lined Tupperware containers in the fridge. As a child I had a particular dislike for dried fruit, so the shortbread was the treat I enjoyed the most and the one I have the fondest memories of.

My grandmother’s shortbread recipe has almost legendary status in my family. I can’t even imagine how many batches she would’ve made over the years. I can remember one December, watching her knead the shortbread mixture together, marvelling at how easy she made all the ingredients come together (then realising later in life she had incredible strength in her arms to be able to do that!)

This is the only shortbread recipe I’ve ever made, and to be honest probably the only one I’ll ever use…

Bowls and ramekins of flour, cornflour, icing sugar and butter beside an old baking tin and wooden rolling pin.

What you’ll need

  • 113 grams of unsalted butter
  • one third of a cup of icing sugar
  • half a cup of cornflour
  • one cup of plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
Shortbread in a tin ready to be baked.

How to do it

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and knead together until the mixture is a firm ball.
  2. Press into a greased slice tin, prick well with a fork and mark into squares.
  3. Cook for 15-20 minutes in a preheated 180°C oven. Do not overbrown. (My mum’s handwritten version of this recipe, indicates in her oven, a 30 minute cook is best. I cooked my shortbread for 17 minutes… but to be honest, I could’ve let it cook a touch longer. So I think between 20-30 minutes is probably the sweet spot)
  4. Cut through squares and let cool in the tin and then store in an airtight container.
Looking down on two slices of shortbread on a wooden board, surrounded by a red ribbon, dried protea and cup of tea.

It really is a very simple recipe, but it produces such satisfying results. You can use the above recipe as a base, and add in extra ingredients like nuts. Slivered almonds always work well, and I can imagine pistachios would be tasty too.

My first batch of shortbread for the season was demolished in a matter of days, so I suspect I’ll be making it again before Christmas Day rolls around. I recommend eating shortbread around mid afternoon with a cup of tea. It’s the perfect pick me up after a busy day of present shopping , tree trimming and gift wrapping.

Have a wonderful week.

M. x

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