Scottish Christmas Shortbread

Shortbread is a traditional Christmas treat in many families for good reason - it's crunchy, yet it melts in your mouth; it's rich, but it's not too sweet; it has a distinctive yet simple flavor - basically, shortbread will please everyone in the family, even the pickiest eater!

Shortbread was originated in Scotland and is traditionally eaten around Christmastime and New Years, and it was considered a special treat because of the large quantities of sugar and butter needed to make it. However, now that these ingredients are easy to get and inexpensive, people eat shortbread all year round.

The name shortbread seems a bit odd considering this treat is not a bread. Historically, Scottish bakers called it shortbread to prevent it being classified as a biscuit, thereby avoiding paying the government tax on biscuits (there was no similar tax on breads). It was called short for two reasons: because it calls for a large percentage of butter (shortening) and because of the height of the finished product.

So go ahead and make your own traditional Scottish shortbread for Christmas, and indulge yourself by using the real ingredients.

What You'll Need:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
Preheat your over to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Cream the butter and the brown sugar and then add 4 cups of the flour. Mix well.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of flour on your working surface. Knead your mixture for 5 minutes until it becomes a soft dough.

Roll your dough flat to a 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Cut it into 3x1 inch strips and prick them with a fork. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake your shortbread at 325 F for 20-25 minutes. The shortbread should have browned only a small amount on the bottom when it is done, but the top should still be light. Cool on a cooling rack.

While you may be surprised to see how much butter and sugar are used in the traditional shortbread recipe, don't think about substituting anything else to make the recipe more healthy. The butter and sugar are what gives shortbread its silky, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Engoy a small amount of shortbread made with the right ingredients and you'll be glad you did. Anyway, Christmas only comes once a year, right?