Traditional Scottish shortbread

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There is nothing quite like the smell of buttery, crumbly shortbread to make me think of Christmas.

Throughout my childhood, in the lead up to the most wonderful time of the year, my Mum would churn out tins and tins of traditional Scottish shortbread – a recipe passed down from her mother and her mother before that.

Every school teacher, family friend and sometimes slight acquaintance could safely guarantee that if they bumped into anyone in my family from late November until about New Years Eve, they wouldn’t walk away without a festive Christmas paper plate holding a cake of shortbread, topped with a plastic holly.

Everyone who tries this shortbread raves about it, which is almost funny given how simple the recipe is! The trick is not to try and make it on a super hot summer’s day, as the consistency will suffer.

Traditional Scottish Shortbread (makes 2 tins)


  • 250g butter (just soft)
  • 375g plain flour
  • 125g white sugar (with extra to sprinkle on top)


  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (fan forced). Spray your shortbread tins with olive oil.
  2. Chop your slightly soft butter into a large mixing bowl. It is best to leave the butter on the bench until it reaches room temperature rather than risk over-softening it in the microwave.
  3. Add flour and sugar to the mixing bowl and rub together with your fingers. Eventually the mixture should form a breadcrumb consistency.

The mixture should form a breadcrumb consistency.

  1. Press half the mixture into each tin and prick the centre of each cake a few times with a fork. For decoration, press the fork around the edge of the tin to form a border.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it is the colour you prefer. A paler shortbread will be softer, while a golden brown colour will give you a bit of crunch.
  3. When it is hot out of the oven, sprinkle the extra white sugar over the top. Cut into wedges while it is still hot and then let it cool in the tin before turning it out.


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