Nana Peg's Shortbread - A Family Favourite

My wee Scottish Nana Peg or Peggy as she was known to others, was a big part of my life right up until she died on the 6th June 2006. When I was younger my family lived with her for a few months in Brisbane whilst my Dad worked up in the Torres Straight Island as an Optometrist before we moved to Warwick when I was 9. Whilst living with my Nana and for as long as I can remember, everyone has always adored her Scottish Shortbread. She made it perfectly, without using a recipe or measurements and it was always the perfect pale shade of yellow that from my (my Nana's) knowledge, shortbread should be. And as much as her children, grandchildren and many others that had the chance to sample her shortbread for many years, she still would claim it was never as good as her mother's. I can't even imagine what this may have tasted like.

Since my Nana's passing (on such an unfortunate date), my cousin's and I have been trying our own hand at trying to recreate the only Scottish tradition that my Nana left behind. The recipe below has been taken from a piece of paper my cousin Jacqui had stored away, however a lot of the method is relying on my memory of being a 9 year old child 'helping' my Nana create this butter/sugary goodness. I know in the past my brother Tim and cousin Scott have tried to recreate this also, however they were more just recreating the combination of sugar, flour and butter purely to eat the dough, which left them quite sick afterwards after consuming most of the uncooked dough.

I have tried this recipe a few years ago and failed several times. The biscuits melted and didn't even resemble anything that looked like a biscuit, let alone my Nana's shortbread.

This is my latest attempt...

The recipe as written to me via my cousin:

1/2 pound butter (don't ask what the hell it is in metric)
1/4 pound caster sugar
1 (?) pound plain flour

medium oven

Just mix butter and sugar in a bowl - use a plastic spoon - not metal apparently - until smooth - then add in little bits of flour until doughy pour some flour on the bench and knead the dough (with a light touch - i guess that means not too much) then roll into little balls and squish with a fork to get the # pattern that Nana used to do.

My first trouble started when I was weighing out the sugar; my scales died. However, I managed to turn them on briefly and with enough power to quickly measure the sugar, but then they really died.

Next went in the flour and instead of weighing this out, I worked with my memory whilst also not trying to over mix it. By the time I got it to a dough to be worked on the bench I was feeling hopefully. The texture seemed right and no cracks were forming. As I put the first couple of balls onto the tray I did feel like it was a bit too light and added slightly more flour.

For the baking I went with 150 degree oven and cooked for 15mins to see how they were cooking but total cooking time was about 23-25mins. And alas, they didn't melt. When the first batch were ready to come out, I opened the oven and the smell just took me right back to my Nana's house.

Overall I was impressed with my efforts and I don't think I will leave it so long between batches. The housemates loved them and we enjoyed them with a pot of Earl Grey tea served in my special tea cups - brought out for the occasion. However, I think the real test will be the ladies at work - they have had many years of eating cakes and are not afraid to tell me where to sharpen up. Lets hope its all good.
Happy Baking x