Back at the end of December of 2019 when Margot & I were visiting the Boston family, Audrey, our Granddaughter, asked if she and I could make cookies together. The recipe she had chosen was the Scotch Shortbread from the 1975 edition of  "Joy of Cooking".

The shortbread that resulted were really good.

This is my take on that recipe


I cup of softened butter    (Soft enough to work in pieces -- not melted or grease-like.) 

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Alpharetta, GA, 02/27/2021,<br />
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-<br />
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Preheat oven to 325F.

Blend the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Cut small chunks of butter into the flour mixture.

Using your fingers blend the butter into the dough.   Don't let the butter get warmer than room temperature.

The dough will be crumbly so press it into a ball with your hands. Don’t knead the dough, though: it will impact the lightness.

Form the dough into a disc, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Pat the stiff dough into an ungreased 9” X 9” pan and press edges down. (I didn’t have a 9 X 9 pan, so formed it into a roughly 9 X 9 square about a ¼” or so thick on a baking sheet.)

Using a fork, pierce through the dough every 1/2 “ or so. This evens out the baking.

Bake 25-30 minutes until the shortbread is a light beige in color.

Cut into rectangles while warm.

From "Joy of Cooking" 1975 edition by Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker Published by Pearson PTR


"Joy of Cooking" is one of the most renowned of American cookbooks. It has an interesting history.  During the Great Depression Irma Rombauer’s husband committed suicide.  Using the small insurance payout she received from his tragic death she published the first edition of this book in 1931.  It has been in print continuously since 1936.  A good overview can be found at


Within the context of baking, "short" refers to the dough having a higher ratio of fat to flour.   When liquid is added to wheat flour it gives the proteins in the flour more mobility and thus makes it easier for them to join together.    the two proteins, gliadin and glutenin form short coils and these can join up end-to-end or hook to each other somewhere along their length.    Gliadin and glutenin combine to form gluten.

The gliadin helps the dough to keep its shape while the glutenin is more elastic and tends to shrink back after being stretched.

Rubbing the fat (in this case the butter) into the flour with the fingers causes the gliadin and glutenin to become coated with the fat which hinders their ability to join together to form gluten and thus the protein strands formed are shorter.

Short pastries tend to be more crumbly and tender.