Like many traditional desserts, shortbread
has been with us for centuries. Ancient records trace this
simply prepared, yet rich and satisfying sweet cookie as far
back as Medeival and Elizabethan Times.
The name "shortbread" comes from
shortening, the primary ingredient in this dessert
that was once reserved for Christmas but is now enjoyed on
any and every occasion. In all likelihood, an early version
of shortbread was first prepared by the lower class European
dairy farmers of ancient times, who made butter a part of
their daily consumption long before the noblemen would deem
it acceptable fare. In those times, shortbread
had yet to earn its name and was actually made with oat flour
instead of wheat flour as it is today.
say that Queen Elizabeth was the first to popularize the partaking
of shortbread and other sweet morsels with afternoon tea.
As the story goes, the Queen had a yen for
tea and a light dessert one day, ordering her servants to
prepare a tray that she could enjoy alone in her private sitting
room. Queen Elizabeth took such a liking to this ritual that
she soon began inviting guests to indulge along with her,
and "afternoon tea and cookies" went on to become
an English tradition.
While Queen Liz may have immortalized the
tea-and-cookies ritual, Scotland took credit for the shortbread
recipe, hence the label "Traditional Scottish Shortbread"
that's used by so many modern-day shortbread companies. The
famous shortbread recipe traveled along with the many Anglo
Europeans who migrated to the States... and went on to become
a New England favorite.
Next time you feel like raising a tea cup
to your European heritage, why not do it with a bit of authentic
Copyright 2006 Ann Zuccardy. All rights
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