2. Shortbread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    24–30 little

    shortbread biscuits

Appears in

Scottish Baking

Scottish Baking

By Sue Lawrence

Published 2016

  • About

This recipe is fail-safe and incredibly easy. I make it in my food mixer, but you can do it easily by hand. ‘Softened butter’ means soft enough that, when you press your finger into a block, there will be an indent; do not make it too soft or it will melt.

I like to use caster sugar and plain flour, but Jo Sutherland at Carfraemill Hotel in the Borders uses icing sugar and self-raising flour for her fabulous shortbread. Her Granny Joanna MacEwan from Caithness, who continued to bake well into her late 80s, made it this way. Jo rolls her dough out thinly, then cuts into little round shortbread biscuits; if you do this, they will take only 25 minutes to bake.

I prefer the ease of tipping everything into a baking tin, then cutting into bars or squares.

The icing sugar and self-raising flour combo give a very light, melting texture; the caster sugar and plain flour give more of a light crunch. Both are delicious.


  • 280 g/10 oz butter, softened
  • 140 g/5 oz golden caster sugar or icing sugar, sifted
  • 280 g/10 oz plain flour (or self-raising), sifted
  • 140 g/5 oz cornflour, sifted
  • golden caster sugar, to dredge


Place the butter and sugar in a mixer or food-processor and cream until pale. Once well amalgamated, add the flour, a good pinch of salt and cornflour a tablespoon at a time, and continue to blend briefly, just until thoroughly combined. Tip into a buttered Swiss-roll tin (23 x 33cm/9 x 13in) and, using floured hands, press down so it is level all over. Prick all over and now, if you have time, chill for 10 minutes or so.

Bake at 150C/300F/Gas 2 for 45–55 minutes. What you are looking for is a uniform pale golden all over. Do not allow it to become golden brown.

Remove from the oven and dredge all over with caster sugar, then cut into squares or bars. Leave for 10 minutes or so before carefully decanting onto a wire rack to cool.