Scottish shortbread

Ok. I don’t often do this but I’m going to quote part of Sharon Tyler Herbst’s preamble to the recipe for these verbatim:

Shortbread, traditionally associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), is now a year-round favorite. The classic large round shape comes from the ancient Yule Bannock, which was notched around the edges to signify the sun’s rays. This recipe … is almost half butter.

More about Hogmanay and Bannock in a moment. First this: That’s right. She said half butter. Oh yum. That butter is mixed with powdered sugar, vanilla, a little orange zest and salt, cornstarch and flour. Simple as can be.

Ms. Herbst gives two options for forming the cookies. I chose to make small rounds and so rolled the dough into a log about an inch and a half in diameter, approximately 14 inches long, and wrapped it in plastic, chilled it for several hours and then cut it into quarter inch slices. The other option is to make three 6 to 8 inch rounds, score each into eight wedges, prick them all over with the tines of a fork and notch the edges all around with inch-long slits. Either way they taste the same. Which is delicious.

I may have a Scottish name, and some Scottish ancestry in with the English, Dutch and German, but I am not familiar with the celebration of Hogmanay. And, while I’ve read the word bannock more than once, I hadn’t been aware that there are different bannock for different occasions. Of the several websites I found in my online wandering about on the subjects, the two below were the most interesting to me, both in terms of the information they provide and the likelihood of their accuracy.

Oh, and that thing Ms. Herbst says about the notches on the larger discs of shortbread mimicking the sun’s rays? That’s probably bogus. But it made for interesting reading.

Festival bannock.


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
This entry was posted in Extracurricular, On the fly (aka from a mobile device), The Joy of Cookies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Scottish shortbread

  1. D'Alta says:

    Patti, I continue to be amazed at your love of making cookies! I made shortbread cookies, once, a long time ago. My husband used to make them for English country dances, regularly, unless he made pie or apple cake. Was going to go to MAG today. Maybe I’ll bake something instead…

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