Monday, March 7, 2011

Grandma Jesse's Real "Scotch" Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread…I’ve always called it Scotch shortbread because that was what my grandma called it.  At least that's what I thought she said through her thick brogue.

Ever since I can remember, shortbread has not only been a holiday tradition, but a family favorite year round. My grandma Jesse brought her family recipe with her from Scotland many years ago. She prepared it with her magic touch year after year, using the purest of ingredients, including caster sugar and rice flour. She mixed the ingredients gently with her hands, careful not to overwork the dough, then baked it at a low temperature until just slightly golden.        

While our family recipe is a classic recipe
consisting of flour, sugar and butter,  
(I like to add vanilla)...there are several variations of shortbread and shortcakes form different regions of Scotland, going back to medieval times. Refined shortbread is said to be accredited to Mary, queen of Scots in the 16th century ~
she named the most traditional, triangular shaped wedges “petticoat tails".  Shortbread was expensive then so it was reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, New Years Eve, and weddings.

My first kilt

As a wee lassie,
I was very excited to wear the kilt Grandma Jesse brought back for me when she went back to Scotland for a visit!

I’m intrigued by my Scottish heritage and fascinated at the history of our cote of arms (family crest) and tartan (plaid). I’m also delightfully amused by men in kilts ~ and thankful that I was never a “Scottish Bride” as Grandma told me that it was a tradition to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a bride at the entrance of her new house for good luck!

my Mom and Grandma Jesse...
playing for the camera!
maybe grandma was trying to drag her to the traditional shortbread ceremony?!

I loved listening to Grandma Jesse’s stories as she reminisced about (what she called) “the old country”! I listened carefully to discern her every word through her thick Scottish brogue…and watched as she magically mixed her dough to perfection. I now prepare this traditional shortbread every Christmas in her memory and I savor every buttery bite of my favorite “Scotch” cookie!  
Here is my version of this buttery family favorite:

Grandma Jesse’s Real Scotch Shortbread

One stick unsalted butter, softened
One stick salted butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar or granulated sugar ***(see explanation below) ***
8 oz. all purpose flour
4 oz. rice flour
*(if you do not have rice flour, you can use 12 oz. of all purpose flour.)
1 tsp. vanilla (optional…my preference)

1)  Blend sugar and butter together on a board or large bowl ...
(grandma worked these together with her magic hands on a large board until incorporated).
~ This is where I add my vanilla ~

2)  Add flour and work into the butter/sugar mixture until it becomes a crumbly dough...
*(careful not to over mix….(for a nice crisp result)*

Press with your hands into parchment lined pan (I used a 9 inch square).
(a 9 in round  is also nice , and can be cut into triangles (petticoat tails).

Press the dough firmly into pan to ¾ inch thickness.
Prick with a fork to prevent bubbling.
Bake at 275 degrees, approx. 20 – 30 minutes. Oven temperatures vary, so it might take longer…it is important to keep an eye on it and bake until just slightly golden but not brown. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly (approx. 5 minutes) then with a sharp knife, score into squares or small rectangles, then cut through to bottom.  Dust with sugar.  Cool completely before removing cookies to platter or tin. 

the parchment liner
makes it quite easy to simply lift the cookies out at once

*** "Caster sugar" is what they call superfine granulated sugar in Britain.  It was given this name because its grains are smaller and can fit through a "sugar caster" or "sprinkler".  Regular granulated sugar works just fine in this choice... because caster sugar is quite expensive - (on occasion, I've actually placed regular sugar in a blender and pulsed it, allowing it to become more fine -
resulting in home-made caster sugar).  So if you ever feel that caster sugar is absolutely necessary, this tip is a great way to go!)...I just don't feel that the extra work in this particular recipe is really needed.*** (just my opinion though)!

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe with its rich, buttery flavor and heavenly melt-in-your-mouth texture!


The Mom Chef said...

Gasp, gasp, gasp! I adore REAL shortbread. I saw this and stopped in my tracks. Yes! I am hooked. Taking Dudette to the park, but I'll be back to print this out.

When I think of Scotsmen, I think of Diana Gabaldon's novels. Hubba, hubba.

mangiabella said...

oh Lorraine you are TOO precious in that kilt! SO ADORABLE!!! These pics are priceless, and this shortbread recipe is a treasure - a must make for sure - the recipe seems so effortless - I may email you a few questions :) big hugs!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I have never made shortbread...but should try. I love the family husband has researched his family's coat of arms...your pictures are great, but the memories are even more wonderful...what a special heritage

Deborah Ann said...

Lorraine, you are so blessed to have this recipe that has been handed down through your family! And that kilt picture is priceless!

Though I DO treasure my heritage, the cote of arms from ancestors were an unruly bunch of royalty! Spoiled brats, rebels...however...some of them had dreams from God - and THAT is something I do treasure. No recipes though.

Thank you for sharing yours, and your lovely shortbread recipe. I'm sooo in trying new recipes these days, and I can't wait to try this one!

Hen Jen said...

you've got my mouth watering, I've never had shortbread, but is looks and sounds wonderful! I'm thinking I will have to try making this :) How lovely to have your grandmother's brogue to remember!

Amy said...

Thank you for participating in the Smackdown Battle. These cookies look so delicous and what a precious recipe. Also, every thing came out perfect on your submission. :) The big red "x" you mentioned wasn't there (but I know exactly what you're talking about). If that happens to you next time, simply refresh your screen and the picture should show up as it should. :) Have a wonderful week ahead of you and thanks again for sharing this wonderful recipe.


Karen said...

oh girl,,what a great brought back such warm memories for me..My mom made a ole fashion Peanut butter fudge,, and like you said,, she used only certain she would only use Dixie Crystal sugar, because it is a fine sugar and desolves much better.. I have the old old Hershey Coco can that she had gotten the recipe from , of course with a couple of her own secret ingred..the year before my mom passed away,,my sister and I got her in the kitchen and had her teach us just how to make it..the way she did.. now that she is gone..I am the one who makes it once a year (christmas gift) for my siblings..
thanks for the delightful post ,as well as going back into my own memorie bank..

Annie said...

Grandma's recipes are always the best! This shortbread looks delicious!

A multi-dimensional life said...

Karen, I know what you mean. We did that too...had her teach us how to make certain things that only she had made for so long! I also hung out with my mom in the kitchen as a child learning just from being with her! What precious memories! Your memories sound much like mine...I love that you still have that hershey's can!!! Hugs! xoxo

David C Brown said...

Greetings from Scotland! Fit like, ma quine? (How are you, my girl?) I don't really speak like this but my grandma did, and my mother does in the right company.
I'm told that the French who came to Scotland when Mary returned called shortbread "petit gateau" - short cake; but the Scots thought the were saying "petticoat"!
Grace be with you all.

Jacqui' said...

This looks great!!!I think Im gonna make some tonight, seriously. I have all these ingredients. Exciteddd

Toyin O. said...

What a wonderful tribute to your wonderful grandma; she sounds like my grandma, she also use to tell us so many tales. The short bread looks really yummy. I love, love, butter short bread, it is the most delicious thing ever. Thanks for the recipe. I admire anyone that can bake:)

OceanDreams said...

i have a little bit of Scottish blood in me so i can understand your fascination with your heritage! ;) that simply looks delicious! thanks so much for your sweet comment - you are always so thoughtful, xo!

D.J. Hughes said...

What fun! I'll have to try this recipe. I love to bake. The heritage you shared is amazing!

Shannon's Shanonigins said...

I love shortbread, but have never tried making it, I must have been waiting for the perfect recipe (yours) I LOVE the picture of you in your kilt, too adorable. I'm married to a half Scott, half Irishman, so I too am fascinated with Scottish culture. Great Post! Keep those fun family pictures coming :))

Hannah McConnell said...

I married a man almost 2 years ago, Justin *McConnell* and decorated my ceremony and chose the music around his scottish heritage though his is far more distant than your own.
Anyway, all that to say... I adore anything and all things Scottish and can't wait to try this short bread recipe.

Lisa said...

That's so neat that you were able to learn about your heritage. Even better that you have such a delicious recipe that's a part of it. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd be delighted if you'd stop by and link your shortbread up.

Stuffed Camel said...

This shortbread looks really good. I'm looking forward to making it. Have a lucky weekend!

Megan said...

Shortbread is on the list of things to bake this weekend and I love the addition of vanilla.

Deborah said...

Lorraine, what a blessing to have this wonderful recipe passed on to you!
I love scottish shortbread and serve it at Christmas every year!
Thank you for this special kind of you to share!
Have a great week!

Deborah :)

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

This looks so good - definitely have to try it!

Tessa said...

I love those family recipes that you can remember making and envision those before you making as well! These bars look great. Everything that shortbread should be!

God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty said...

Coming by to see if you had written another post...yummy!!!! Have a beautifully blessed day!!!!

Maria I. Morgan said...

Ran across your blog when I stopped by Warren Baldwin's site. What sweet memories of your Grandmother and what a yummy recipe! Love the pic of you as a little girl - looks like you were born to be a cheerleader! Have a blessed week!

Toyin O. said...

Just dropping by to say hi to my favorite blogger friend. Hope you are having a good week:)

Maurie said...

Lorraine, I had a Grandma Jesse, too. And she was also a great cook. I love you in the kilt. Have a great day. Thanks for sharing the family secret recipe!

Vinicius.C said...

Hello! ... I was surfing and I ended up on his blog, I'm reading everything, knowing and enjoying everything I read!

I know I'll be back!

I invite her to know the soul of a poet, my blog!

A big hug!


Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for sharing your recipe! I am SO glad I found your site. I've been looking for a recipe for "real" shortbread for years - ever since I tasted some that a co-worker made from a family recipe. They were in chunks just like yours and I when I had them I was in absolute buttery heaven, realizing that I'd never had true shortbread until I'd had this one. Couldn't stop eating them. My co-worker was unwilling to share his family recipe (OF COURSE I asked!) so I was left with a mission to find out how to produce this for myself. Since shortbread is fairly simple (ingredient-wise) I found many similar variations but most included icing sugar which didn't seem right to me. When I found the variation with rice flour, I was happy but wasn't sure if it was a good variation or a bad one. Anyway, I think you've answered that question for me. (The picture of you in the kilt has give me confidence in this recipe.) I will be trying it in the next few days. I am certain I will not be disappointed!

Anonymous said...
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Liz Berg said...

Nothing better than a treasured family recipe. Perfect holiday cookies!Merry Christmas, Loraine! xoxo

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