Jean's Scottish Shortbread

This recipe was taught to my mother by a Scottish neighbor, Jean Martin, and Mom passed it on to me. I tried the Cinnamon Shortbread variant on a whim; everyone else seems to prefer it, but I like the original. Either way, it is a delicious butter cookie!


  • 1 lb. butter
  • 5 cups (600 grams) unbleached flour
  • 1 cup (198 grams) cane sugar
  • superfine sugar to sprinkle (see note below) 


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour and sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, knead the butter well, until soft. Gradually add the flour/sugar mixture while continuing to knead, until all is well mixed. Do not over work!
    2. Press into an ungreased 11 x 17 pan. Take a fork and poke through the dough across the width of the pan, making similar lines about 1-1/4" apart down the length of the pan.
    3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then 250 degrees for 35 minutes. When done, cut immediately into bars, about 3/4 x 2 inches each (or whatever size you want). When almost cool, sprinkle generously with superfine sugar. Makes about 8 dozen cookies.


    • This really is best when done by hand. The texture of the cookie is a little off when it's made in an electric mixer (but it's still OK, so don't let that stop you from making the cookie).
    • I like baking them the full 35 minutes, so that the cookie is nice and brown. If you would like a more delicate cookie, bake a little less.
    • I would not recommend using an airbake pan for these -- you want them to brown.
    • These freeze very well.
    • Superfine Sugar: If you cannot find superfine sugar in the stores you can make it yourself. Thoroughly clean out a coffee grinder, add regular granulated sugar, and grind for about 2 seconds. If you do it right, you'll have superfine sugar; too long and you'll have powdered sugar. Due to the difficulty in cleaning a coffee grinder, I usually make about 3 cups at a time and store it.
    • Cinnamon Shortbread: Add the following to the flour/sugar mix, before it is added to the butter: 3-4 tablespoons of cinnamon, 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon each of: mace, allspice, cloves, nutmeg