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All butter shortbread fingers

There are many ways of making shortbread but nothing beats a simple traditional Scottish recipe using just one part sugar to two parts butter and three parts plain white wheat flour. Shortbread is always cooked at a low temperature to avoid browning. The choice of shape is up to you but here we have opted for fingers.

 

Ingredients

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan) / 325°F (284°F fan) / gas mark 3.

Mix the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, and then rub in the butter, much the same as making shortcrust pastry. You need to keep working this with the tips of your fingers until all the butter is rubbed in and the mixture is like sand.

And now knead it to paste, pushing it together to form a smooth dough. Make sure you’ve got warm hands because this will help.

You now have a choice over the shape of the result. You can turn them into a variety of shapes, including fingers, petticoat tails, rounds, or use a wooden shortbread mould. On this occasion, we’re opting for fingers but it’s worth pointing out that fingers are always thicker than tails or rounds.

Roll out the shortbread dough and shape it into a rectangle about ½ to ¾ of an inch / 1.75  to 2cm thick.

Grease an 8-inch / 20cm square baking, sandwich or brownie tin (preferably one with a loose bottom to make it easier to remove).

Put the dough into the tray and press it firmly into the sides and corners, making sure it remains an even height all over.

Use a knife to lightly mark out the “fingers” on the surface. Then lightly prick the surface of each finger several times with a fork.

Bake in the oven for between 20-30 minutes until they are pale and golden, but not brown.

Sprinkle extra caster sugar over the top as soon as they come out (if you wish).

Allow them to cool slightly on a rack before cutting them into fingers.

Tips

These will freeze well. Alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container for 10-14 days in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Trivia

Although shortbread grew out of the medieval biscuit-bread which was twice-baked and dusted with sugar and spices, it’s refinement into the modern-day shortbread is attributed to the court of Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century, which is how it is so closely associated now with Scotland where it traditionally forms part of the Christmas and Hogmanay festivities. The first printed recipe appeared in 1736 from a Scotswoman called Mrs McLintock. It can often come enriched with citrus peel, nuts, or caraway seeds.