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Scottish Shortbread

August 14, 2011

Being a Campbell with family members who love their baked goods just like I do, a default baked good I often turn to is Scottish shortbread.

Shortbread is a classic Scottish dessert which you can spend way too much money on for what you get (like Christmas, Walker shortbread), or make yourself. As for me? I’d rather make it myself. Especially when the surprise birthday party of one of my wannabe-Scottish, bagpiping friends calls for it.

Perfectly dense, perfectly breakable, and perfectly buttery rich, this is one dessert you should only eat on the rare occasion, as it is super unhealthy in large doses :). But totally worth the indulgence.

It’s the simplest thing I’ve ever baked, with only three essential ingredients: butter, flour, and sugar. Add a dash of salt and a splash of vanilla and the dough is good to go.

Adapted from


-1 lb. of butter or margarine (4 sticks) at room temp.

-1 cup packed brown sugar

-4 to 4.5 cups flour

-dash of salt

-splash of vanilla extract


-large mixing bowl + electric mixer

-large spoon

-clean counter or table top for rolling the dough

-rolling pin

-pizza cutter (or knife)



1. In your large mixing bowl, cream together the butter (or margarine) and sugar with your electric mixer on low to medium-low. Add in the vanilla and salt.

2. Slowly add in the flour a little bit at a time. It will be very thick and soon your beaters will clog with the thickness of the dough. Eject the beaters and scrape away the dough from the beaters. Continue to mix the dough by hand with a spoon until it holds together.

3. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and dump your dough onto it. Knead for about 5 minutes, incorporating more flour as you go until it holds together and is no longer sticky/greasy. Don’t overadd flour. Just add enough so it holds together.

4. Roll out the dough with your rolling pin until about 1/2 thick.

5. With your pizza cutter, cut into small rectangles that are about 1” x 3”. With your fork, prick each piece of shortbread to make the traditional Scottish design.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and a little soft to the touch. The dough will firm up upon cooling. There you have it. Easy, home-made shortbread!

Tip: Dress up your presentation with some plaid wrapping paper as a backdrop on your serving dish.

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