MacPhae Short Bread

MacPhae Short Bread ... have some when you are feeling a little 'rebellious!'

 Scottish MacPhae Short bread , the original tax rebel’s treat

The story of Scottish Shortbread is one that takes it’s name – in part—to a rebellion against the English habit of ‘taxing’ biscuits or cookies. Bread wasn’t taxed, so it became a ‘bread’ and the word ‘short’ noted that butter was both a key ingredient and the primary flavoring. The original was probably made of oat flour as it was inexpensive and many thought it was only fit for livestock.


You can read about short bread recipes far and wide, but all of them contain three primary ingredients: flour, sugar and butter! In addition, you will find discussions regarding the virtue of high fat European butters vs. its less stout American cousin; but this is mostly posturing. Personally, I’ll buy an Irish butter or the American ‘Challenge Dairies’ of the West Coast. The historical recipe ratio of flour –butter – sugar is 3-2-1, most likely measured in pounds and I would interpret the original recipe as:


3 ½ cups of flour ( I use bread flour)
1 lb butter ( 4 cubes)
1 cup sugar (confectioners)

325 F for 45 minutes or until slightly brown

The texture of the short bread is very much a point of discussion and the process of blending the ingredients is varied. Purest stay strictly to the three ingredients, while those who want to have a more ‘crumbly’ shortbread add rice flour and those who want a denser cookie will add cornstarch; both are yummy. Some recipes, even some very old recipes, call for eggs and salt.

Regarding sugar, the traditional is a granulated white sugar, but there are recipes including: brown sugar or confectioner’s sugar. Some will add almond or vanilla flavorings and the toppings may include things like: nuts, icing, sesame seeds or even coconut.

Cooking temperature is low with much time in the oven at 275-350 degrees ranging from 15 – 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the product. Shortbread is supposed to be white or slightly brown.

The MacPhae Short Bread
As we have discussed, short bread was named for a rebellion against the English ‘tax’ on biscuits. The book of Scottish Clans tell of the MacPhaes as a small but fierce family… and so the MacPhae shortbread must be the most rebellious of them all!  


“Sooo, what ya gonna do now ,laddie? eat somethin!”