Scottish shortbread, or petticoat tails as it is also known, is a delicious buttery treat that is very easy to make. It can be bought in tartan tins at Christmas time, but why not make it yourself? It is a lovely gift to give a friend or to have on hand to offer visitors when they drop in during the festive season. For gift giving, wrap the shortbread in cellophane and tie with a tartan ribbon.
This traditional Scottish shortbread is the one I have made every year at Christmas time for a very long time. I make it at other times of the year too. The recipe is from my treasured copy of “Forget-me-not” Biscuit Cook Book, A Collection of Good and Tried Recipes. 2/-. All proceeds to The New South Wales Society for Crippled Children.
Although this delightful little book doesn’t have a date inside, I think it was published in the late 1950s. My mother and I got our copies in the early 1960s. Even though mine has yellowed pages and is falling apart, I still use it often.
The shortbread recipe is easy to remember and change as you wish with the ratio of ingredients being, three, two and one, that is, three parts flour, two parts butter and one part sugar. Also, within the three parts of flour, you can use one third rice flour or fine semolina and two thirds plain flour. The rice flour gives the shortbread a grainy texture and the semolina makes it crunchy. Try the different flours to see which you like best.
This shortbread recipe was apparently Queen Victoria’s favourite recipe, according to my little book. Shortbread is called petticoat tails after the shape of the petticoat hoops worn by women in the 19th century.
Photography by Diana Lampe
Makes 24 pieces
Variation Shortbread can be shaped and baked in fingers; gently pat or roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm and cut into fingers. Prick the fingers with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, place on a tray and chill for 15 minutes. Bake at 150C for 30 minutes until lightly coloured.
Shortbread can be shaped and baked in fingers; gently pat or roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm and cut into fingers. Prick the fingers with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, place on a tray and chill for 15 minutes. Bake at 150C for 30 minutes until lightly coloured.