Melt-in-your-mouth Scottish Shortbread with cornflour (corn starch), an old-fashioned recipe that is incredibly easy to make, and really quick too. The shortbread cookies are crumbly, rich and buttery, and ready from scratch in around half an hour. This traditional recipe is very popular all year round, but particularly at Christmas.
Shortbread must be one of the easiest desserts to whip up. All you need is 4 ingredients - 3 if you don't use cornflour. Cornflour or corn starch might not be a traditional ingredient, but it makes the shortbread so much more tender and crumblier, that I can't possibly not use it.
And even so, shortbread only requires ingredients that we always have around - no slaving away for hours, no cream to worry about, but the result is the most incredible bites you can possibly get.
Shortbread is immensely popular throughout December, and in particular at Christmas. You can choose any cookie cutter you like for a more festive look, or just some regular cutters, it really don't matter much. A similar recipe is my Viennese Fingers which have a crumbly and rich texture too.
Serve these heavenly treats with a hot cup of tea, coffee or a good old hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream for the ultimate festive experience. Other Scottish Christmas treats include these delicious Ecclefechan Tarts which are absolutely delicious.
- flour - regular plain flour is the best for the recipe
- cornflour - or corn starch in the USA - please not it is not cornmeal, which is yellow and usually used in polenta, that's something totally different
- sugar - I used caster sugar, which is a lot finer that the regular granulated sugar
- butter - I used salted butter, which works really well in shortbread
This shortbread can be made with icing sugar or powdered sugar too - which will result in a much finer texture. It's totally up to you which one you like to use.
I did not add any flavouring at all, as I love the simplicity of this recipe, but vanilla extract can be a lovely addition if you wish.
Step-by-step photos and instructions
- Add the sugar and butter to a large bowl
- Use a hand mixer to beat them well until you get a creamy texture
- Add the flour and cornflour, and knead to get a smooth dough
- 4. Flour the work surface well to avoid the dough sticking to it, and use a rolling pin to roll it to a thickness of half a cm
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, then arrange them on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper
- Use a fork to prick the cookies in a few places, then sprinkle caster sugar over them
- bake in the preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius (340 Fahrenheit) for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are firm to touch and the edges are slightly golden
- Remove the tray from the oven and leave the cookies to cool down for 10 minutes on the tray before transferring them to a cooling rack
This old-fashioned shortbread recipe is really easy to make, and pretty much failproof. I did not chill the cookies before putting them in the oven, as the temperature in the kitchen at the time of the baking was rather cool.
But if your dough is too soft and warm, you can chill the cookies after shaping them for at least 10-15 minutes.
Overworking the dough would also cause the cookies to spread too much in the oven, so the firmer the dough is, the better cookies you get.
Poking the shortbread helps distribute the heat evenly and bake the cookies to perfection - I haven't done it with my other shortbread variations, but the classic recipe benefits from this step.
Definitely butter! The margarine simply doesn't have the right texture to keep the shortbread tender and flavourful.
When the dough is too soft and warm, the biscuits/cookies spread in the oven. You can either refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, or cut out the shapes you need, and then refrigerate. The main thing is for the dough to be form and cold.
Although cornflour is not essential, it does help with the soft and crumbly texture.
Other shortbread recipes
If you’ve liked this recipe or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM , YOUTUBE, TIK TOK and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
- 250 g plain flour
- 100 g cornflour ( corn starch)
- 100 g caster sugar + more to sprinkle on the cookies
- 225 g salted butter, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (340 Fahrenheit).
- Add the soften butter and caster sugar to a large bowl, and use a hand mixer to cream them well.
- Add the sifted flour and cornflour, and knead well to get a smooth dough.
- Flour the work surface to avoid the dough sticking to it, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a thickness of half a cm.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes - mine has a dimeter of 6cm.
- Arrange the cookies on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper - you will have to work in batches as there are many cookies.
- Use a fork to prick the cookies a few times, then sprinkle them with caster sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are firm to touch and the edges are slightly golden.
- Leave the shortbread to cool down in the tray for 10 minutes, before transferring them to a cooling rack.
- Click on the US Customary link to see the measurements displayed in cups and ounces.
- The servings can be adjusted by clicking the number next to Servings.
- This old-fashioned shortbread recipe is really easy to make, and pretty much failproof. I did not chill the cookies before putting them in the oven, as the temperature in the kitchen at the time of the baking was rather cool.
- But if your dough is too soft and warm, you can chill the cookies after shaping them for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Overworking the dough would also cause the cookies to spread too much in the oven, so the firmer the dough is, the better cookies you get.
- Poking the shortbread helps distribute the heat evenly and bake the cookies to perfection - I haven't done it with my other shortbread variations, but the classic recipe benefits from this step.