Mmmmmm… shortbread

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Eat Christmas Cookies

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shortbread Short Bread!! We do love shortbread!! And our Christmas table would not be complete without T’s shortbread!

Several years ago, on a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)*, we lucked into a special Christmas display in The Grange, the lovely 19th century estate located just south of the main building. A friendly woman in period dress was serving the last few pieces of some shortbread that she had made in the wood-fired oven of the Grange kitchen.

We stood in the warm kitchen, savouring our shortbread until we were the only ones in the kitchen on that otherwise busy December day. The other visitors had moved on and new visitors merely glanced in because all the shortbread had been snagged. We were transfixed. We stood and exclaimed over the shortbread – it was fantastic – and asked the lady if the recipe was a secret.

Lucky us, not only was it not a secret but it was printed out in a little booklet, “Receipts Used in the Grange Kitchen”. All of the booklets had been sold already so the lady gave us her sample copy that was on the table! Ever since, every Christmas, T has been making the most wonderful shortbread. Friends beg for it….

And it is good! Really good. Thank you thank you, lovely lady at the Grange!

Here’s what T does to make his shortbread:

for one 11×17″ jelly roll tray
based on a recipe in Receipts Used in the Grange Kitchen (AGO)

edited 13 December 2007: correction!! The oven temperature for the first baking should be 250F
  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1-2 tsp seasalt, to taste**
  • 2 c sweet butter, softened


  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl. Use your fingers to mix til crumbly.
  2. Taste for salt. Add more if necessary.
  3. Use your hands to pat the dough into an ungreased jellyroll pan. Pierce through at frequent intervals with a fork. Bake at 300F 250F on the uppermost shelf of the oven for about 80 minutes – until the bottom is golden but not dark.
  4. Remove from oven. While they are warm, use a straight edge to cut the shortbread into rectangles. Standing the rectangles on their sides with plenty of space between each rectangle (use a couple of cookie trays) and bake at 200F (note that the oven is set at a lower temperature) for another hour. Cool the cookies completely and taste to make sure they’re crisp. If not, stick them back in the oven.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in a tin. They keep well for a month (if you’re lucky enough to have them around for a month).

** Note that we like to taste the salt in our shortbread. We find that it really improves the flavour.

shortbread Shortbread is, of course, wonderful on its own. It is also good dipped into warm mincemeat.

The only drawback to these cookies is that they disappear very quickly. Look at how many are left in the tin!! (We sent most of this year’s first batch of shortbread away as gifts!)

Eat Christmas Cookies This is another post for Susan’s (Food Blogga) Eat Christmas Cookies party. Because she said:

You can send as many recipes as you like.

The deadline for posting is 24 December 2007. For complete information about how to participate, please read more here:


* The Grange is closed to the public until Autumn 2008 while the AGO is undergoing a major tranformation.

For more information, please read the following:


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Eat Christmas Cookies posts:


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  • The Grange sounds like a lovely place to visit. Many thanks, Elizabeth, for generously sharing the recipe with all of us at Eat Christmas Cookies! They are a delicious and authentic addition. Cheers! Susan

    It’s my pleasure, Susan. And I’d like to add thanks again to the very generous woman at The Grange who gave us the recipe booklet. -ejm

  • What a great memory! I wonder what the nice lady would say if she knew you remembered her every time you make the shortbread :) Shortbread is really one of the most satisfying cookies you can eat. All that butter!!

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