The best easy shortbread recipe

Let me tell you about my Granny’s easy shortbread recipe.

Granny loved a cup of tea, as soon as you were in the door she would say “you’ll hae a cuppa” and disappear through to the kitchen to put the kettle on.  A few minutes later, back she would come bearing a tray of tea things.  Granny would never give you a cup of tea without “a wee something” even my mother says that tea is “too wet” without something to go with it.

best easy shortbread recipe
Shortbread goes well with tea or coffee

These days with less active lives this can be a dangerous habit.  Shop bought treats can be full of additives and preservatives and the portion sizes are far too large to eat regularly.  No to mention that Granny would throw up her hands in horror at the mere thought of serving something she hadn’t made herself.  What would people think.

A traditional favourite

The treat Granny always had ready was shortbread.  No Scottish housewife would be without some in a tin ready for unexpected guests.  There are a number of shortbread recipes and Granny used different ones for different things.  There is one that is good for making shortbread fingers, one that gives good definition when pressed into a mold and one that can be baked into thin crisp sheets that go well with desserts.  This recipe is the simplest all rounder.  It is so easy to remember, very forgiving as to the method, and best of all tastes great.  Here it is.

flour, half fat, half sugar

That’s it.  That is how I learnt it before I could even have written it down. It really is an easy shortbread recipe.  This is how it looks written up.

Easy Shortbread

A fail safe shortbread recipe that is easy to remember and tastes delicous

  • 500 grams Plain Flour
  • 250 grams Salted Butter
  • 125 grams Caster Sugar (plus extra for dusting)
  1.  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6/high
  2.  Combine all the ingredients into a dough
  3.  Form into the required shape
  4.  Place on baking sheet and put in the oven.  Immediately turn the oven down to 150C/300F/Gas2/low
  5.  Bake until golden approx 10 minutes for thin buttons

As you can see it is a simple recipe.  Most of all I love how Granny could convey the essence of the recipe to me in just a few words  First thing first however, you need to have some background knowledge.

Background knowledge you need to know

Flour is always plain for biscuits, and self-raising for cakes, unless Granny says otherwise.  Butter is always salted.  Sugar is always caster (super-fine) for baking unless Granny says otherwise.  Once you know this, the benefit of her version is scale.  If there is a sale-of-work or school fundraiser coming up and you need to make hundreds, or if you are just wanting a little something to go with your cuppa then this easy shortbread recipe works.

Why this easy shortbread recipe is so good

It works so well because it is flexible.  Take some flour, weigh it, weigh out half that amount of butter.  Next weigh our half as much sugar as you have butter.  So sometimes I start with six ounces of flour, sometimes a kilogram.  It doesn’t matter what units I use as long as they are consistent.  I might do four ounces, two ounces and an ounce.  Next time it could be two kilos, a kilo and half a kilo.

How to combine ingredients

The next step is to combine the ingredients.  I was taught by Granny, my mother and some strict Scottish home economics teachers to rub cold butter into the flour using the tips of my fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs or damp sand.

Shortbread Crumbs
As the mixture comes together it looks like damp sand

Next you stir in the sugar and begin to press more firmly until it forms a dough.

But this is supposed to be an easy shortbread recipe I hear you say.  Okay.  There is a reason this is one of the first things Granny taught kids to make.  The ingredients taste so good

So it doesn’t matter what you do. 

As a result you can just dump the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer, combine until smooth and then add in the flour to form a paste.  Or let the kids combine the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon mix in the flour with their hands.  It just needs to be combined somehow. If you work it too much it might not get the shortest crispest result, but it will still taste great.

Once the dough is formed, shape it how you want.  I like to roll it into balls about the size of a large grape then press them flat. This recipe is flexible so use your imagination.  It works well in a mould so kids can just press it into a silicon mold with their fingers.  I have a mold for tiny little sea shells that go nicely with a cup of espresso.

Small shortbread biscuits / cookies with espresso
Just a little something with my coffee

How long do I bake it for

Next put them on a baking tray.  I love silicone trays for this.  Then pop them in the oven and turn it down right away.  How long to bake them for depends on what shape you have made.   You just need to keep having a look, don’t worry it won’t affect the result. I find the size I usually make takes about 10-15 minutes.  When they are finally ready they will look pale golden.  You will also find your kitchen suddenly starts to smell wonderful.  Quite often I find myself thinking “that’s the smell they must be done” and as I go to look just as the timer goes off.

The Finishing Touches

Finally as soon as you get them out the oven you must sprinkle them generously with some extra sugar.  This one step really makes a difference.

Be sure to sprinkle with sugar

It finishes them off and makes them look more professional somehow.  If you like you can add icing or dip them in chocolate.  Store them in an airtight jar and you will always have something to offer guests.  I would tell you how long they keep, but I don’t really know, they never last long in this house.

Once you have got the hang of these you can almost make them without thinking.  They are just the right to have with a cup of tea. One looks great on the side of a coffee cup.  You can even serve them with dessert, they are great with mousses or ice-cream.

Let me know what you think of Granny’s easy shortbread recipe is it the best?

the best easy shortbread recipe
Is this the best shortbread recipe?