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Traditional Shortbread Recipe

When I was young and just getting into baking, my first project was shortbread. This recipe is always a winner with family and friends.

Buttery shortbread

Buttery shortbread

Saturday Bakeday

One of my earliest kitchen memories goes way back to when I was a young boy living in Yorkshire, England. That's right, it's James Herriot Country. As a young lad, I would sit on the kitchen worktop and watch my mum making a variety of baked goods for the rest of us six hungry kids. We would all wait for those delights to emerge from the oven—and then it would be like the first day of the sales, in terms of who could get there first.

Mum always let us help rolling pastry, kneading the dough, and whisking the mix. Best of all, she let us lick the bowl and whisk attachments, too. This is when my interest started in trying to recreate what she had shown me.

Saturday afternoon: This was when mum and dad always did the weekly shopping, and this meant the kitchen was mine. So I could now go ahead and make as much mess as I wanted, with no one to make me clean it up . . . at least not yet. So let's get onto the recipe of one of my first successes as a child, which is still one of my favourites, even though I don’t look as youthful as I did way back then.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

20 min

30 min

12 generous pieces

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  • 250g (10oz) plain flour
  • 200g (8oz) butter
  • 100g (4oz) white or brown sugar
  • 100g (4oz) ground rice (rice flour)
  • White sugar, for sprinkling on top
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Add the sugar and butter at room temperature together in a bowl and mix together until you have a creamy consistency. A food mixer will make your life so much easier at this point.
  2. Add the plain flour and rice flour to the creamed butter and mix in well. You should have a bread-crumb textured mix.
  3. Pour the mix into your baking tray. I found there is suficient butter in the mix not to have to prepare your baking tray to stop the mix sticking to your tin. Press the mix down with your hands leveling it out to about 1cm thick.
  4. With the back of a spoon, smooth over the mix, applying gentle pressure as you go. With the prongs of a fork, prick all over the surface of the mix.
  5. Put your mix in the middle of your preheated oven at 190°C, 375°F, Gas mark 5 until golden brown. It is always better to under-cook it than over-cook. While still warm, sprinkle with some white sugar and cut into desired pieces.
  6. At Stage 2: You can add different ingredients to spice up your shortbread to your personal taste. Try adding a small amount of dried lavender, chocolate chips, small pieces of dried fruit, lemon zest or just keep it nice and plain.


  • Handle the mixture as little as possible. This will keep the mixture light and crumbly.
  • For the best results in taste, always use real butter,
  • Cut into pieces while still warm with a very sharp knife.
  • Why not try adding some interesting flavourings to your bake. how about adding Choc Chips, a little lavender or hint of cardamon or a sprinkle of your favourite nuts into the mix.

Shortbread Facts

  • In Shetland, instead of carrying the bride over the threshold, a decorated shortbread was traditionally broken over a bride’s head before she entered her new home.
  • Shortbread was classed as abread by bakers to avoid paying the tax placed on biscuits.
  • The Scottish custom of eating shortbread on New Year’s Eve derives from an ancient pagan ritual of eating Yule Cakes.
  • Petticoat tails: When baked in a round tin and then cut into triangles, the triangles resemble the shape of fabric pieces used to make petticoats during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
  • January 6th of each year is National Shortbread Day.


Enjoy your tea with your own shortbread.

Enjoy your tea with your own shortbread.

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