There are very few foods that suggest Scotland quite so strongly as shortbread. The only other close contender would be haggis and those tend to evoke rather mixed sentiments when mentioned to anyone outside of Scotland. Yeah, there are Scotch eggs too, but we’d like to remind you that while they are decidedly British in invention, it’s harder to pin them particularly on Scotland.
Scotch whiskey is a beverage after all, so it doesn’t really count. While no Robert Burns Night observance would be complete without some shortbread, we feel that having a day dedicated to making and eating shortbread can’t really be a bad thing.
After all, who doesn’t like shortbread? So now you have two days where you can enjoy shortbread, even though we knew that shortbread is good year round and no one really needs an excuse to make and enjoy shortbread.
History of Shortbread Day
If you’re wondering about the history of shortbread itself, well, it has medieval origins and supposedly Mary, Queen of Scotland, invented modern shortbread in the 16th century by adding sugar to the existing recipe. We can’t verify whether or not that story is true.
It sounds like one of those popular myths like George Washington’s cherry tree, but for all we know it could actually be based in fact. Scotland has been inseparable from shortbread since the 18th century. After all, the first printed recipe for shortbread was published by one Mrs. McLintock back in 1736 and the association has stuck ever since.
While the mid-18th century was a critical period in Scottish history, even something mundane as a recipe became a marker of national identity. Therefore, we will say that shortbread is delicious and is worthy of such an honor.
How to celebrate Shortbread Day
We think that the best way to celebrate International Shortbread Day would have to involve shortbread in some way. Yeah, you get those cute little boxes of imported Scottish shortbread in some specialty shops, but why not make your own or host a shortbread party?
It’s not really all that difficult to make shortbread, with most recipes basically involving one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. You can of course add various things to it as well. Anything from dry fruits to chocolate chips to lavender, but the basic recipe remains the same.
Given the fact that it’s simple and easy to experiment with, we don’t think there’s really any excuse for you to not make some delicious shortbread for International Shortbread Day.
Huh? Did we hear you say “but I don’t have a recipe for shortbread, how can I make it?” Well, we’re including a shortbread recipe just so that excuse won’t impede you from actually making and enjoying shortbread.
So here it is:
2 1/4 cups (12oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (4oz) sugar
1 cup (8oz) butter
Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C and mix all of the ingredients together until they form a stiff dough. You should add any additional ingredients like chocolate chips or lavender at this stage; it doesn’t make much difference whether you mix by hand or using a mixer.. Roll out the dough and form round shapes, which should then be scored into triangles, and prick with a fork so that you don’t get air bubbles. You could also use a shortbread mold as well. Bake it for 25-30 minutes and sprinkle it with sugar immediately upon removing it from the oven. Congratulations, you now have freshly-baked shortbread to enjoy for International Shortbread Day and all-year round.