Historic Recipe: Shortbread (1938)

Source: Home Management; A Comprehensive Guide-book to the Management of the Household, containing authorative contributions by Experts, compiled and edited by Margaret Garth and Mrs Stanley Wrench (1938)

A fairly simple one today (which I actually made last week and haven’t got around to writing up)

I got some rice flour in my stocking this Christmas (who doesn’t?) and so I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it. All in all shortbread seemed a pretty good call.

8oz . flour
4oz. sugar
6oz. butter
2oz ground rice

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Then add the flour and the ground rice. Knead into a firm dough. Roll out on a floured board and cut into shapes with fancy cutters. Prick with a fork before putting them in the oven. Bake in a moderate oven till a very pale brown. Then take out and finish off with a good sprinkling of sugar.

This was all pretty self-explanatory – I used caster sugar and rice flour is just another name for ground rice.

The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread, short: the term short (as opposed to long?), when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, as in shortcrust pastry. Fun fact: this is also the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening (mainly by Americans). Basically what I’m trying to say in a round-about way is use butter, not butter substitute or margarine or olive oil spread, but real butter. From a cow. I also feel like this should be a motto for life and not just shortbread, but I realise that I might be outnumbered in that particular assertion.

The dough came together nicely with a bit of work and I rolled it fairly thinly and cut out rounds with a cutter, then baked them at about 180 degrees for a few minutes. I did learn that they change from very pale brown to mostly brown really quite quickly, so watch them closely. After I took them out of the oven I slid them onto a wire rack still on their greaseproof paper and doused them in more caster sugar

They were delicious, we had them, still warm, with hot chocolate and then I took them into work the next day where they disappeared with incredibly rapidity.

Suggested alterations: Nothing at all.

Final verdict: 10/10, would definitely make again.


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