Holiday Shortbread 4

Since I’m always researching and looking at recipes, I come across so many to try I often misplace or forget where I found them. This Christmas, instead of making Lemon Iced Shortbread, I’ve made what is reported to be the favourite of the Royals’ afternoon tea.

I couldn’t remember where I found/saw the recipe… and there it was, just the list of ingredients, handwritten on a teeny, tiny piece of paper. Sigh. (On the back is a list of ingredients for Olive Oil Ice Cream!) I still can’t tell you where I first saw the recipe, but I do remember it’s courtesy of Chef extraordinaire, John Higgins from George Brown College, here in Toronto. Hey.. if they’re OK with the folks in a palace….


I’m going to figure that most of you have made shortbread, cookies, etc before, but if you do find the instructions lacking, let me know. You may have seen a recipe without the cornstarch, but without it the texture is different – it’s just… well… a sugar cookie then. 

The Royals Shortbread

Do not over mix the dough. Working the flour too much is too much like making bread – and will make one tough cookie. (This is why I always make cookies using a rubber spatula, mixing by hand). You can make the dough, roll it in logs, wrap in plastic & refrigerate. This resting of the dough will ensure tender cookies & conveniently split up the work. When you’re ready to bake, just take the dough from the fridge when you preheat your oven. You can also flavour the dough: adding espresso powder for a nice coffee flavour or finely grated lemon zest is very nice, esp if you drizzle them with some lemon icing as well. My dear friend Jane has an affinity for lemon desserts and is particularly fond of those~

2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted


In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch and salt to combine.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for just a minute or two (this will help it absorb the next ingredients) then add the icing sugar.
Add the flour mixture and mix only until combined; if it seems a little dry, use your hands, gently, to bring it together – if you’ve made short pastry for a tart before, the texture will be similar.
At this point, divide the dough in half, to roll into 2 separate logs, approx 2″ in diameter (If you want a bigger or smaller cookie, adjust the size here, and then adjust your baking time accordingly)
Wrap completely (you can use the wrap to help the dough come together) and store in the fridge.
When ready to bake, remove the dough and preheat your oven to 325°.
With a very thin and sharp knife, cut into pieces between 1/4 and 1/2″ thick.
Place one inch apart on your cookie sheets lined with parchment, silpat or your fave non-stick product.
Bake for approx 10  minutes – do not let them brown.
Let cool, drizzle with icing if using, and store; I use freezer bags and stash them in the freezer – keeps them fresh! (Even though they never last long enough to worry!)



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4 thoughts on “Holiday Shortbread

  • kimberlyhall

    Jo I loved this recipe! I used pastry flour instead of all purpose and they came out really well! I think the oven temp. was right, but I will put the shelf up higher next time as they just started to brown on the bottom.

    I'm going to do another batch and do 1/2 with lemon zest and a light lemon glaze, and then an orange zest cookie with a little choc. dip!! Yum!!!

  • Just In Thyme

    Hi Kim,
    Good call on the pastry flour – would def produce a light textured cookie! Nice work on the variations too~
    ps Have you ever checked your oven temp??? I suggest an oven thermometer… only a few $ and a critical tool when baking!
    Thanks for your post!!