Traditional shortbread with unconventional twist in method

Tweaked Granny's shortbread served on her china
Tweaked Granny’s shortbread served on her china

Recently I published my grandfather’s bakery shortbread recipe.  The day after making it my Mum told me that the shortbread which I remembered so fondly from my childhood was a different recipe made by my grandmother. Grampa’s recipe is excellent but it makes so much and because it contains 1 egg the ingredients can’t be reduced.

Traditional Shortbread
The postcard recipe which my aunt Carmie sent from Scotland

When Mum gave me the recipe, I recognised the 4, 8, 12 oz ingredients as being exactly the same as the recipe which I have used for years.  The one which I used was posted to me on a postcard from my aunt Carmie in Edinburgh, in 1989.  Although I liked the recipe, I always felt that it wasn’t perfect, the texture was a bit flakey.  It seems that the big difference is in the method.

The traditional shortbread making method was to cut or rub cold butter into the flour and sugar.  Abbey from Top Tots previously mentioned to me that she heard that the butter for shortbread should be very soft (room temp on a warm day).  I asked Mum whether Granny used soft or hard butter and she said that it was room temperature and soft butter.  Apparently Granny discovered that the shortbread was better than ever when one day she left the butter and sugar in the mixer and forgot about it, it mixed so long that it was ultra light and fluffy.

When my aunt Carmie saw the article with Grampa’s shortbread recipe she shared this “Memories of that wonderful kitchen and the large trays mum would bake, and then package bunches for Dad to distribute to the Convent, St. Michael’s, St. Anne’s Hospital etc on Christmas Eve.”  I love that spirit of abundance and generosity, that’s what a kitchen should be about.

Seeing how well Grampa’s recipe works with a bit of cornflour and a small amount of icing sugar.  I have adapted the traditional recipe to include these 2 ingredients and it works very, very well.


90 grams white sugar, 30 grams icing sugar

230 grams butter

300 grams cake flour

40 grams corn flour


  • Beat butter and sugars until creamy
  • Sift in flours, beat until well combined.
  • Press into a baking tin, 22 cm x 22 cm
  • Prick lots of holes with a fork
  • Bake at 150° C for an hour
  • cut into bars as soon as it is out of the oven
  • When cool, sprinkle generously with castor sugar


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  1. I love shortbread and always make the one on the Robertson’s Maziena box, I have tried others but they were too doughy. My maternal grandmother made the best shortbread, I can still remember it although I was only 12 when she died.

  2. Hi Suls, I remember that shortbread so well. We use to go home with boxes of it whenever Granny Ursula did a bake. That huge kitchen with trays of shortbread everywhere. So happy to read you have adapted the recipe and made a success of it.

    As a matter of interest I am doing a Pocket ancestry for Wayne with Photos and stories. When I am finished I am going to get it scanned. Would you like a copy.


    Joan Gaitskell (formally Pocket)

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