Said to have been a favourite of Mary, Queen of Scots, shortbread is an ancient recipe of great lineage.
It is a classic Scottish dessert that consists of three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter.
It resulted from the form of medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a dry, sweetened biscuit called a rusk.
Eventually, yeast from the original rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in the burgeoning diet of the British Isles.
Despite the fact that shortbread was prepared during much of the 12th century, the refinement of shortbread was actually accredited to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th century.
The name of one of the most famous and most traditional forms of shortbread, petticoat tails, may well have been named by Queen Mary herself.
This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges, and flavoured with caraway seeds.
Shortbread was expensive and reserved as a luxury for special occasions such as Christmas, Hogmanay (the Scot’s New Year’s Eve), and weddings. In Shetland, it is still traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the doorstep to her new home.