Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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shortcake as Ayto (1993) observes, is ‘a term of dismaying diversity. Its application varies widely from place to place and over time, and the only common factor is the use of shortening—butter or lard—to make it soft or crumbly.’ In England the word was already in use in Shakespeare’s time (he had a reference in The Merry Wives of Windsor to a character called Alice Shortcake, and a recipe book of 1594 had already included ‘To make short Cakes’), but it was not always in the past—nor is it now—properly distinguished from shortbread.