There is nothing nicer than a slice of buttery, crumbly shortbread to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee and it is simplicity itself and so quick to make. This is our classic recipe but there are many variations, some made with semolina, some with cornflour and others just plain flour. We've used a little ground rice in this recipe as it gives a nice crisp biscuit with just a little crunchy texture.
To make the best tasting shortbread use the finest butter you can afford as this is where the flavour comes from!
Scottish Shortbread is traditionally made in a round wooden mould, often decorated with thistles, or pressed into a fluted metal flan tin. And, when marked and broken into triangles are known as petticoat tails. To make shortbread fingers press the mixture into an 18 cm square tin and mark it into fingers so that it can be cut or broken into bars once baked. it is best to mark the shortbread with the back of a knife before baking then cut again as soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, then allow to cool so it will snap easily.
If you want to make the mixture in advance, roll the dough into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film and chill. It will keep in the fridge for several days. When ready to bake cut into thick slices, place on a baking tray and bake for about 25 mins until golden.
Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Cut the butter into cubes. Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Add the flour and ground rice and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together, it will be crumbly at first but keep beating and it will form a soft dough.
Dust the work surface with a little flour then pat or roll the dough out to an 18-20 cm circle. Crimp the edge between your finger and thumbs, mark into eight triangles and prick all over with a fork.
Place on a baking tray. Bake for 45 mins or until pale golden. Allow to cool on the tray for 10 mins then cool on a wire rack. Dust with caster sugar.
Shortbread will keep in a cake tin for up to 2 weeks.
Cherry shortbread Add 75g finely chopped glace cherries to the mixture then shape and bake as above.
Lavender shortbread rounds Add 2 tbsp lavender flowers (check they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides) to the mixture and bake as above or roll out a little thinner and cut into rounds with biscuit cutter and bake for about 15 mins until golden.
Choc chip shortbread squares Mix 100g plain chocolate chips into the soft dough and bake in an 18cm square tin for 40-45 mins until golden. Cut into squares and drizzle with melted chocolate if liked.
Ginger shortbread triangles Finely chop 3 pieces preserved ginger from a jar and mix into the soft dough. Roll out thinly and cut into squares, Mark each with the back of knife into 2 triangles and bake for about 20-25 mins or until golden. Cool and snap in half.