Shortbread is so called because of its high fat content, short being the abbreviation of shortening, which in this rich crumbly biscuit means butter.


  • 225 g/ 8 oz chilled unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 225 g/ 8 oz flour
  • 60 g/ 2 oz caster sugar, plus more for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


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 20-cm / 8-inch tart tin and gently press the mixture out into an even layer, but slightly thicker at the edges, and crimping between finger and thumb. Prick the surface all over with a fork and incise 4 bisecting shallow cuts from edge to edge, like the spokes of a wheel so that the biscuit can be divided neatly into 8 equal wedges when baked. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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.