Granny Smith’s Scottish Shortbread Recipe

scottish shortbread biscuits on a plate
Homemade Scottish shortbread, a treat and a comfort food

This recipe for shortbread is my own family’s traditional one, it’s the one my mum taught us to bake when my sisters and brother and I were little.

Now, I am going to tell you the whole story about this shortbread with pictures showing how it’s made and some details to help as you bake. But if you are keen to see the recipe itself, here it is.

NB Please don’t call it Scotch shortbread, Scotch is an adjective used for whisky and broth, but NOT for shortbread. Shudder.

Scottish Shortbread
Yield: 10 biscuits

Scottish Shortbread

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Sweet, buttery shortbread with a delightful texture and crunch.

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 125g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 25g (1/6 cup) rice flour

Instructions

  1. Put on oven to 150°C/300°F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Knead in the mixed flours.
  4. Roll out and shape into rounds or fingers, or cut with cookie cutters.
  5. Sprinkle a little extra sugar on the top and prick with a fork.
  6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a rack, whilst you make a cup of tea.
  8. Relax with cuppa and your shortbread.

Notes

NB The cup measurements are not 100% accurate, as the metric measurements do not correspond exactly.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 65mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Granny Smith’s Shortbread

This genuinely is a Granny Smith recipe, as it was my granny, Elizabeth Smith neé McDonald, who gave it to my mum, Alison Smith, who became a Granny Smith herself when my oldest son was born. My mum had it written down in her recipe book, and then she gave me the recipe one day, it must be about 20 years ago now, maybe more.

I love seeing mum’s handwriting, it’s so familiar
Mum passed away in January 2019, but she’s with me every day
So here’s me in the kitchen getting ready. Not a teenage helper in sight.
 

There is nothing healthy about shortbread! The recipe is simply butter, white flours and sugar. The ingredients may be pretty dodgy, but the shortbread itself will fill you with happy neurotransmitters, especially if you sit down and relax with a cup of tea as you eat them. If you have a wee natter to a friend or family member as you nibble the biscuits then that’s even better for your brain.

Oh dear! Not an ounce of fibre in it.

NB In these pictures, I am making a double batch as 10 shortbread biscuits just doesn’t last long enough in this house. But it’s a good idea to start off with the single batch given in the recipe as you practise your shortbread baking.

I use my whisk to cream the butter and sugar, but it gets a bit clogged with butter when I use this bowl, a larger one is better. We always used a wooden spoon as kids, must try that again, it’s great exercise for the arms.

The biscuit is made very short, meaning crispy and easily broken, by the high fat ratio to sugar and flour. When beaten together the butter and sugar do not go light in colour as they would if you were beating fat and sugar for a Victoria sponge, just because there’s so much more butter than sugar in this shortbread recipe.

When you mix in the flours, the mixture is very much like breadcrumb and you do need to knead it. I usually use my hands.

A piece of dough, ready to roll.

The dough is pretty crumbly and will often crack as you roll. Persist!

Mum always made little fingers, sometimes just pressed with her hands. But we love the hearts and stars best. You can also make a round circle and then cut it into triangles, like a pizza. These are known as ‘petticoat tails.’
 
Ready to go. I am a dope, I forgot to sprinkle with a little sugar. Never mind.

It is totally FINE to nibble some of the dough as you go!

There ought to be a sign saying ‘Eat Me.’ This photo shows me trying to be arty with a tablecloth my other granny embroidered.
Crisp, crumbly and tender, enjoy your shortbread with a cup of tea. Mine is in the Denby Greenwheat tea set that my mum and dad got for their wedding present in 1960.

When I was a little girl in Scotland, we always had tins of homemade biscuits and cakes in the cupboard. Shop bought biscuits were very rare. Mum was the main baker and then she taught us kids to bake too, and we took over filling the tins. Shortbread was a staple. I have read that the first printed recipe for shortbread comes from 1736, and that shortbread was an expensive luxury in those and later days, mainly eaten at Christmas and Hogmanay.

I thought that making this shortbread and taking photos and writing about it might make me cry, but in fact there’s a big smile on my face. I am remembering my own tiny Scottish Granny Smith, who was quite a fierce woman, and very proud. She lived until she was 99, amazing given the very hard life that she lived in her first fifty or so years.

And I am remembering with fondness my own mum, my four children’s Granny Smith. Baking was a big feature of my childhood and, whilst I lived in a family home that had a lot of troubles, the baking wasn’t one of them.

I very much hope you will enjoy this recipe, and that you can completely relax when you drink your tea and eat your shortbread biscuit!

Pin these images for later!

recipe for Scottish shortbread
Scottish shortbread recipe
 

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Posted on: April 24, 2020

2 Comments

  • Reply April 24, 2020

    Susanne Fraser

    Looks so delicious Seana I must make some if I can find the rice flour
    Can anything else be a substitute?

    • Reply May 6, 2020

      Seana Smith

      Hi Susanne, I think a lot of recipes only use wheat flour and no rice flour. But my granny never would have!!

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