Citizens, shortbread is a type of biscuit (American English: cookie) traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (by weight).
The use of plain white (wheat) flour is common today, and other ingredients such as ground rice or cornflour are sometimes added to provide the classic “sandy” texture.
Also, modern recipes often deviate from the pure three ingredients by splitting the sugar portion into equal parts granulated sugar and icing sugar (powdered sugar in American English) and many further add a portion of salt.
Shortbread originated in Scotland, with the first printed recipe, in 1736, from a Scotswoman named Mrs McLintock. It is widely associated with Christmas and Hogmanay festivities in Scotland, and the Scottish brand Walkers Shortbread is exported around the world.
It is derived from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a hard, dry, sweetened biscuit called a rusk.
Eventually, yeast from the original rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in Britain and Ireland.
Although shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, the refinement of the recipe is credited to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th century. This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges, and flavored with caraway seeds.
The end result was expensive and reserved as a luxury for special occasions such as Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve), and weddings. In Shetland, it is traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the entrance of her new house.
Citizens, I have added a hit of lavender and a whisper of lemon to a classic shortbread recipe that uses both traditional farola or rice flour as well as all purpose flour to achieve the ultimate texture.
Needless to say, you should use only the finest butter you can find in this recipe where it is central to the final result!
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