Mary Queen of Scots' fondness for shortbread is said to be the reason for its increased popularity in the 1500s. Nowadays it is loved so much there is even a National Shortbread Day on the 6th January each year! The key to good shortbread is slow baking until it is pale golden and cooked through – if over baked, or baked too quickly, it will become slightly bitter in taste due to the ‘burnt’ butter.
- 250 g butter, cubed and softened slightly
- 110 g (½ cup) sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra to sprinkle
- 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 55 g (⅓ cup) rice flour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 160ºC (140ºC fan-forced). Use a 20 cm cake tin to draw a circle on two separate pieces of non-stick baking paper, turn over and set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until starting to become pale and creamy, but not too aerated (do not over mix).
Sift together the plain flour and rice flour, add to the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix until evenly combined and a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in half and shape both portions into discs.
Place each disc in the centre of the marked circles on the baking paper and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll each out to fill the circles. Use your fingertips to neaten the edges and then pinch the edges to create a decorative edge. Use the baking paper to lift the shortbread rounds onto two oven trays. Sprinkle with the extra sugar, dividing evenly between the rounds. Use a large sharp knife to mark each round into 8 wedges and then use a fork to pick each wedge three times.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, swapping the trays around half way through baking, or until pale golden and cooked through. Cool on the trays. Cut into wedges to serve.
• This shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Best of British baking.