Scottish Shortbread

3 Comments

My mother-in-law was a daughter of Scotland, twice removed. Her great-grandparents, surname Craigg, moved to the United States from Scotland, and settled back East, then moved west to Missouri, where they raised their children and raised crops on the prairie, in Macon County. Then the Civil War broke Missouri apart, and Thomas and his bride, Bettie (née Hoveck) moved to northwest Arkansas when the war ended, bolstered by a war pension, and raised several children. The youngest, Mabel, was born in 1901. She is my husband’s mother.
I never met Mabel Craigg Kilby, because she died before I met my husband. She was born a year later than my paternal grandmother, and was of the same generation. Her cooking, as I have said before, was legendary. Larry is always talking about her wonderful “pie crust” that she made to go with strawberries. I asked his sister, Joan, about that pie crust, and she told me it was really Scottish shortbread, made with butter, flour, a little salt and powdered sugar, with equal amounts of butter and flour and half as much sugar.
I don’t have her recipe, but found one that sounded very similar in my Good Housekeeping Cookbook, the 1986 version. I have two versions and my mother has an older version, that has different recipes than the newer two. Someday I’m going to find a copy of that old cookbook of Mom’s on the Internet, and buy it, because she won’t part with hers.
I halved this recipe, because we only needed one panful. It’s sinfully delicious, with a great taste and a fine crumb. Don’t overbake it – 40 minutes was perfect at 325.
Here’s a photo essay of my shortbread, that I made tonight to go with strawberries:

Ready to go in the oven: note the fork pricks, to help it cook evenly.

Ready to go in the oven: note the fork pricks, to help it cook evenly.


The recipe from the cookbook.

The recipe from the cookbook.


Out of the oven, and golden.

Out of the oven, and golden.


Cut into wedges immediately after removing from the oven. I used a pizza cutter.

Cut into wedges immediately after removing from the oven. I used a pizza cutter.


let cool for at least an hour on a wire rack.

let cool for at least an hour on a wire rack.

3 thoughts on “Scottish Shortbread

  1. I loved the story behind this recipe. Its interesting because cooking has been a big part of my family since I can remember. There are tons of family recipes that we have that really dont have recipes for. No one has ever written them down because they all pass them down by word of mouth and they dont measure anything they just know. So this makes me realize that I should probably write it down from my mother and grandmother because they both have it memorized and I dont. The shortbread looks fantastic. I love to cook so this is pretty inspiring. Thanks Mrs. Kilby. Nice to hear about some of your family history. See you in class.

  2. We always and still do make reagular pie crust for what we call strawberry shortcake. That is the way my Grandma Rains made it just like pie crust. My favorite dessert. But miss our strawberry patchs around where we get get berries. Maybe the new farmer market will have them. 🙂

  3. My mother always had pie crust when she was a girl, too – but my Dad liked sponge cake, and that is the way we ate it when I was little. Larry said the shortbread recipe is more like his Mom made. It is very like pie crust, except for the sugar. There is no sugar in pie crust.
    But I think the pie crust for the cherry pie recipe I put on here last month would be good, too. I may try it. It has cream cheese in it.
    We don’t have the berries like we used to have. I remember we had wild strawberries growing on our place when I was little, but they come and go. Now we have none.

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