How to Make Excellent Shortbread

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Shortbread should be buttery and so ‘short’ that it almost makes your teeth chatter!

Serves 6-8


250g butter at room temperature
110g caster sugar
360g plain flour
Caster sugar for sprinkling on top


1. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together with a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the flour and keep stirring until you have a crumbly mixture (you can also whizz the butter and sugar together in a food processor until fluffy, add the flour and pulse until crumbly).

3. Press the mixture into a 7 inch square cake tin with a removable bottom.   Prick all over with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm and golden. Remove from the oven and using a sharp knife mark it into squares or triangles. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a baking grid before removing from the tin.

Shortbread Recipe Tips

Baker Lorraine Pascale uses half plain flour and half rice flour to give her shortbread a sandier finish.

Felicity Cloake writes in the Guardian newspaper that to get the perfect shortbread, you need to use the best quality butter and sugar. ‘Rice flour gives it that special sandy texture that sets it apart from the common biscuit, and a pinch of salt helps to balance that rich, delicious sweetness.’ She uses 115g butter, 55g golden caster sugar, 130g plain flour, 40g ground rice and a sprinkling of demarera sugar to finish. She uses a 15cm cake or tart tin to make one large shortbread or she cuts them into biscuits of 1cm thickness.

The same article says that Scottish chef Sue Lawrence uses cornflour instead of ground rice to make her shortbread melt in the mouth. She uses 50g of cornflour to 200g plain flour with 175g salted butter and 85g caster sugar and cooks them in a 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 oven for 35-40 minutes.

The Ballymaloe recipe uses baking powder to give the shortbread a rise: Sift a good pinch (1 teaspoon should do it) into 350g plain flour and 75g ground rice, use 275g butter and 110g caster sugar and bake in a 150C/300F/Gas 2 for an hour.

Leith’s Baking Bible uses 55g ground rice to 115g plain flour, stirred into 115g softened butter and 55g caster sugar. The dough is baked for 20 minutes at 170C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Pecan Shortbread recipe

Add any nuts from pecans to crushed walnuts or almonds to the dough when you are rolling it out. Or just press a nut into the centre of each biscuit before baking.

How to make Almond, Vanilla, Cumin, Coriander, Orange, Lemon, Ginger or Mixed Spice Shortbread

To flavour your biscuit dough, add a few drops of almond or vanilla extract, a sprinkling of cumin or crushed coriander seeds, some orange or lemon zest or half a teaspoon of dried ginger or mixed spice.

Photograph copyright

Where to buy Ground Rice: you will find ground rice in the Asian supermarkets.


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