Shortbread is a type of
biscuit( cookie) which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oatmeal (although plain white flour is common today, and other ingredients like ground riceor cornflourare sometimes added to alter the texture). Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fatcontent, provided by the butter. The related word " shortening" refers to any fat that may be added to produce a short (crumbly) texture. [cite web|url=http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shortening|accessdate=2007-01-25|title=Online Etymology Dictionary]
Shortbread is not to be confused with
shortcake, which is similar to shortbread but made using vegetable fat instead of butter, giving it a different texture.Fact|date=November 2007 By coincidence, it is now understood that the short or crumbly texture is a result of the fact that the fat inhibits the formation of long protein ( gluten) strands.Fact|date=December 2007
Shortbread is baked at a low temperature to avoid browning. When cooked, it is nearly white, or a light golden brown.
Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle, which is divided into segments as soon as it is taken out of the oven ("Petticoat Tails", named from the French 'petits cotés', a pointed biscuit eaten with wine [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=amAJAAAAQAAJ&printsec=titlepage#PPA207,M1] ); individual round biscuits ("Shortbread Rounds"); or a thick (¾" or 2 cm) rectangular slab cut into "fingers." It is made from a stiff dough that retains its shape well during cooking. The biscuits are often patterned, usually with the prongs of a fork before cooking; sometimes they are then sprinkled with more sugar while cooling. Shortbread biscuits are often associated with normal egg-based biscuits, but they hold their shape under pressure, making them ideal for packed meals.
Shortbread is also sometimes shaped in stars and other shapes for special occasions
Shortbread is generally associated with and originated in
Scotland, but due to its popularity it is also made in the remainder of the United Kingdom, and other countries like Denmark, the Republic of Irelandand Sweden. In the latter a popular recipe of it is called "Drömmar", literally meaning "dreams" in English. The Scottish version is the best-known, and Walkers ShortbreadLtd is Scotland's largest food exporter. [ [http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=1063102007 Scotland on Sunday - Business] ]
Shortbread was chosen as the
United Kingdom's representative for Café Europeduring the 2006 Austrian Presidency of the European Union.
Scottish chef John Quigley, of Glasgow's Red Onion, describes shortbread as "the jewel in the crown" of Scottish baking. [ [http://www.scotlandontv.tv/scotland_on_tv/video.html?vxSiteId=60fdd544-9c52-4e17-be7e-57a2a2d76992&vxChannel=Food%20Recipes&vxClipId=1380_SMG1564&vxBitrate=300 Chef John Quigley discusses and bakes Scottish Shortbread] ]
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