Belinda Jeffery

My favourite shortbread biscuits

I’m a complete and utter sucker for shortbread, and over the years I’ve made many versions of it, however this is the one I return to again and again. It’s short and buttery, yet melts in your mouth… which is everything a perfect shortbread biscuit should be.


Makes approx. 40 biscuits

225g #unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into 2cm chunks

½ cup (110g) caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups (300g) plain flour

¾ teaspoon salt

White sugar, for sprinkling, optional


# Continental (cultured) unsalted butter with its unique, slightly tangy flavour is best for this.

Put the butter and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer (or you can use a regular bowl and hand-held electric beater.) Beat them together on medium speed for 4 minutes, until the mixture looks light and creamy. It’s best not to over-do the beating as it may incorporate too much air into the mixture which will affect the shortbread’s texture. Reduce the speed and mix in the vanilla.


Turn off the beater and add the flour and salt. Mix them in on low speed (if the beater is going too fast you will discover, as I have more than once, that you’ll end up covered in a fine coating of flour!) Mix only until the flour is incorporated, stopping and scraping down the sides as you need to, to make sure it is evenly mixed.


Lay a large sheet of foil on the bench and cover it with a sheet of baking paper. Divide the dough in half. Gently work one piece of the dough briefly to bring it together then roll and shape it with your hands into a log about 5cm in diameter. If the dough seems too soft to do this (which it can be, particularly on a hot day), chill it for a little while first so it firms up a bit. Sit the log on the end of the baking paper nearest to you, and roll it up in the paper. Next, roll it so it’s wrapped in the foil. Twist the ends very tightly in opposite directions so you end up with something that looks like a long, neat bonbon. Push in firmly from either end of the bonbon, (it’s a bit like doing an isometric exercise!) to compress the dough and squeeze out any air pockets. Do the same again with the remaining dough. At this stage you can freeze the logs until you need them (they keep well in the freezer for about 5 weeks; just defrost them in the fridge before slicing them.) If you’re baking the biscuits the same day, chill the logs for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge or until they’re firm enough to slice.


Preheat your oven to 155C (approx. 140C fan forced). Line one or two baking trays (depending on how many biscuits you’re baking) with baking paper.


Unwrap the rolls and cut into slices about 6 mm thick – the ends are usually a bit oddly-shaped, having been twisted tightly, so I confess I usually trim these off and pop them in my mouth (I find shortbread dough unbelievably delicious!). Sit the slices on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 3 cm gap between each one, as they spread a bit. Sprinkle each biscuit with a little white sugar, if using.


Bake the biscuits for about 25 minutes, or until they’re pale golden around the edges and on the bottom. (If you’re using more than one tray and they’re sitting on different oven shelves, halfway through the cooking time swap the top tray to the bottom shelf and vice versa so the biscuits bake evenly.)


Remove the biscuits from the oven when they’re ready and leave them to firm up on the trays for a few minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. When they’re cold store them in an airtight container for up to three weeks. The biscuits also freeze well, layered between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container, for up to 6 weeks.