Shortbread is so called because of its high fat content, short being the abbreviation of shortening, which in this rich crumbly biscuit means butter.
Dice the butter and put it into a mixing bowl to soften. Sift the flour on top with the caster sugar, a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract. Rub together gently and form into a ball. Alternatively, blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until they ball. The mixture needs no liquid.
Shake some sugar on a surface, put the dough on it and cut in half, shaping into 2 equal balls. Put each into a lightly buttered
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4 and bake the shortbread for 20–25 minutes, when the surface should be an even golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave in the tins until completely cooled before removing.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.