Posted by: thedirtybaker | December 23, 2011

Cookies as Presents, Part 2: Shortbread

Shortbread! (From

Shortbread is short, but it isn’t actually bread.  Discuss.

In the case of pastry, “short” means that it has a high proportion of fat to flour, and is therefore crumbly.  When it comes to baking (at least for me), that means BUTTER!!!  None of that margarine or Crisco crap: BUTTER!!!!

Tawk amongst yehselves.

According to, the first shortbread recipes only date back to the Elizabethan period, although that doesn’t mean that was the first time they were made.  Rather, that’s when they were first written about.  Earlier cookbooks disdained butter as poor people’s food, and didn’t include much of it, but the (then) emerging middle class used it liberally.  The most traditional recipes also include ground up oats, as oats and butter were staple foods of the lower classes.

According to, Petticoat Tail shortbread (the shape in this recipe) is either a corruption of the French Petites Gatelles, or may be named for its resemblance to a woman’s petticoat or hoop skirt.

I made it because one of my teacher’s aides said that she prefers vanilla to chocolate-type cookies.  Advantage: It’s really easy to make!

I made the recipe as written, with one exception.  I couldn’t restrain myself: I had to add cinnamon.  Some might call it a sickness, but wiser people (those with good taste in food) know better.  In this case, I took my shaker of sugar and cinnamon, sprinkled it liberally on top, and pressed it into the dough somewhat.

Martha Stewart Shortbread

Yes, it’s another Martha Stewart recipe, and it’s also very good.  Note:  This is a very simple recipe with few ingredients, so make sure they’re good quality!


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