Scottish Shortbread is a delicious and beloved treat that has a long history and a significance that goes beyond just its taste, as it represents Scottish culture and traditions.
The origins of Scottish Shortbread can be traced back to medieval times when it was known as “biscuit bread”.
Bakers used to repurpose leftover dough from bread-making by drying it out in a low oven until it became hard and dry, creating what was known as a “rusk.” The term “biscuit” actually comes from the French word “bis-cuit,” which means “twice cooked.” Over time, bakers started using butter instead of yeast in the dough, which eventually led to the creation of the beloved Scottish treat known as shortbread.
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The name “shortbread” comes from the term “shortening,” which is used to describe any fat that is added to flour to make it crumbly. Over time, the recipe for Scottish Shortbread evolved, and butter became the main ingredient.
Legend has it that shortbread as we know it today was created by the Scots in the 12th century. The story goes that Mary, Queen of Scots, was a great lover of the sweet treat and it was served to her at her court. The buttery biscuit was so delicious that it became a firm favourite with the aristocracy and soon became a symbol of hospitality.
It was traditionally baked at New Year as a symbol of prosperity and good luck. It was also given as a gift to friends and family during the festive season. Today it’s a much-loved treat the world over and has become synonymous with Scotland.
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1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 175°C
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and salt to the butter mixture and mix until a dough forms. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
Press the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan that has been greased and floured. Use the tines of a fork to prick the top of the dough all over.
Bake the shortbread for 35-40 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown on top.
Remove the shortbread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, carefully remove it from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.