Last updated: August 13, 2021

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Shortbread, one of the best-known products of Scottish cuisine with a centuries-old history, has become an integral part of "tea-time" for many people around the world. As early as 1736, Mrs McLintock published the first printed recipe of the traditional shortbread biscuits, the basic recipe of which has been preserved to this day and supplemented by numerous variations.

With such an enormous selection of shortbread cookies, available in a wide variety of shapes and with a wide variety of ingredients, there is a perfect treat for everyone on the coffee table. In order to keep an overview, we have compared various varieties and you will find out how you can ultimately find the right shortbread for you.




The most important facts

  • The traditional shortbread comes in a wide variety of shapes and variations, so that all individual tastes can be satisfied. The original Scottish shortbread is mostly based on natural ingredients without additives such as wheat flour, sugar, butter and salt.
  • Shortbread is offered and consumed worldwide mainly with coffee or tea. It is also popular as a dessert, mainly because of its typical slightly crumbly consistency.
  • Due to the simple basic recipe, shortbread can be refined with other ingredients and can also be made in a version suitable for allergy sufferers and diabetics. The biscuits are also available for people with gluten intolerance.

The Best Shortbread: Our Picks

In this section, we have compiled our favourites for you to help you make your purchase decision. There will be a shortbread to suit every taste and requirement. This can then be easily ordered.

Buying and evaluation criteria for shortbread

To make it easier for you to choose your shortbread, we have summarised the most important criteria so that you can find the best shortbread for you. These criteria are as follows:

Now we explain what to look for in these criteria so that you can make the best possible choice.

Ingredients

When you decide to buy biscuits, it's understandable that you want to know about the ingredients. As there are many different shortbread variations and varieties, it can sometimes be difficult to decide.

Especially if the shortbread is to be served and eaten for special occasions in private or simply with coffee or tea with the family.

If there are allergy sufferers in the family or among friends, it is essential to take a closer look at the list of ingredients before buying. We have listed the ingredients that are contained in every shortbread. Depending on the variety, other ingredients may be added:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Salt

Shape

The classic shortbread comes in many different shapes. We have listed the three most popular ones here to give you a brief overview:

Shape characteristics
Shortbread Fingers elongated biscuit shape
Shortbread Rounds round, classic biscuit shape
Petticoat Tails small triangular biscuit pieces

Of course, shortbreads are also available in many other shapes and motifs. So for your own "tea time", it all depends on which shapes you personally prefer. The appearance of the shortbreads has no influence on their taste.

Packaging

Shortbread comes in different packaging and sizes. From simple 120 gram cardboard boxes to 300 gram metal tins, or individually wrapped shortbreads for on the go, everything is available.

With this criterion, it is important to know whether you only want one particular type of shortbread or whether you want to satisfy the diverse preferences and tastes of a somewhat larger group.

If you want to offer the biscuits at family get-togethers or for guests, then assortment boxes or packs with different shortbread variations and shapes are a good idea.

If sustainability is an issue for you, we recommend shortbread in real biscuit tins. Here you have the advantage that you have a storage option for the shortbreads. The often elaborately designed tins also make excellent gifts.

Product features

If you think classic shortbreads are too unhealthy because of the high fat content of the butter, you should pay attention to the quality of the production process.

There are organic shortbreads with spelt shortcrust pastry without preservatives, which are in no way inferior in taste to the original shortbreads.

The consistency of the shortbreads depends mainly on the flour used. But even if you have intolerances, you don't have to do without the typical fine, slightly crumbly consistency, because there are also gluten-free products. There are also low-carb versions or sugar-reduced shortbreads for diabetics, so there is something for everyone.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about shortbread answered in detail

Now we will go into the most important and frequently asked questions about shortbread.

What is shortbread?

If you translate the word shortbread from English into German, you would first assume that it is a "short bread".

However, this is not the case, because the correct translation of shortbread in German is " Butterkeks " or " Mürbeteiggebäck". The traditional shortbread is often served with tea or coffee and is still an integral part of British tea time.

In terms of consistency, the traditional biscuit is reminiscent of the German Sandgebäck. There are a few characteristics that distinguish the original shortbread and which you can also use to check the quality of the product:

Factors for selection properties
Consistency really crumbly
Taste intense buttery flavour
Colour light yellow

The shortbreads can have a few holes. This is typical and only shows that the shortbread biscuits have been baked in the traditional way. The holes are created when the steam escapes during baking.

Where did shortbread get its start?

The history of shortbread began as early as the 12th century, when shortbread was still considered a "poor man's food". In the Scottish Highlands, it was made from oatmeal, without butter or sugar. Today, it is usually made with plain wheat flour or rice flour.

A staple of British tea time since time immemorial, the pastry is now also served as a sweet accompaniment for in-between meals due to its many variations. (Image source: Rosalia Ricotta / Pixabay)

While shortbread, with its now typical buttery flavour, was reserved for the rich and royal family as a high-quality variant, the long baking tradition has been preserved to this day and the basic recipe is still the same.

Due to the preference of the Scottish Queen of the time, shortbread cookies became famous beyond the borders of Scotland. They are still considered a famous speciality of Scottish cuisine.

What varieties of shortbread are there?

There are now countless varieties of shortbread on the market. In order to meet the different tastes of the time, new flavours and combinations are constantly appearing on the shelves. To give you a rough overview of the variety of shortbreads, we have put together a few variations for you:

Sweet:

  • with chocolate chips
  • with caramel and chocolate
  • with salted caramel
  • with orange and chocolate
  • with nuts
  • with lemon

Savoury:

  • with ginger
  • with cheese
  • with lavender
  • with cheddar and rosemary

Whether you prefer a traditional sweet or one of the savoury shortbreads, all shortbread varieties have one thing in common: the basic recipe. This always consists of just three simple ingredients in a ratio of 1:2:3, including only sugar, butter and flour. Eggs are not used in the mixing bowl.

Can I bake shortbread myself?

If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to shortbreads from the shops, "baking it yourself" might be an option. By making your own shortbreads, you end up with two advantages.

You can control your ingredients, which is especially relevant for allergy sufferers, and you can test out your own variations according to your taste preferences. No matter which type of flour you use, make sure that the flour is as fine as possible so that you achieve the typical consistency. You can find numerous shortbread recipes on the internet.

Conclusion

Shortbread is a shortbread biscuit based on a simple yet sophisticated recipe, which has become an internationally popular addition to coffee, tea and cakes thanks to its myriad of flavour options. From Rounds to Fingers, chocolate to ginger, there's something for everyone!

Shortbread manages to combine the traditional baking craft with the trends of modern cuisine. In this way, new flavours and biscuit shapes are created again and again.

We think that shortbread should not be missing from any cosy coffee round and are excited to see which crazy varieties will be developed in the future. Of course, we will also try them and share our results with you!

(Cover photo: Hello Lightbulb / Unsplash)

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