We celebrate National Shortbread Day on January 6 to appreciate the delectable shortbread in all its glory. This high-fat, melt-in-your-mouth buttery treat is Scotland’s best gift to the world. Baked without a leavening component such as baking soda or powder, the dense and rustic texture of this incredible dessert stands out. As a remnant of the holiday spirit, bake this Scottish delight in your home on National Shortbread Day to start the new year on a sweet note.
History of National Shortbread Day
Along with windmills, spectacles, and gunpowder, the 12th century also saw the creation of shortbread. Originating in Scotland and benefiting from a cultural exchange with French pastry chefs, shortbread’s original recipe calls for the simple mix of butter in the flour. The fattening of the dough shortens it, hence the name ‘shortbread’.
It wasn’t until the intervention of Mary, Queen of Scots, that this crumbling delicacy gained national prominence. In the 16th century, she refined the recipe and propagated its triangular sizing to match them with her preferred petticoat tails. After the introduction of sugar to the United Kingdom, the 17th-century shortbread became a sweet biscuit, best enjoyed with evening tea. Shortbread can trace its cultural footprint back to William Shakespeare’s 17th-century play, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.
As the recipe traveled overseas, the limited ingredients and simplification of its preparation process became its trademark. In a way, shortbread connects us to the divinity of taste that erupts when we stop chasing after it. All you need is a cup of sugar, a scoop of butter, a handful of flour, and an oven to bake it till it’s golden brown.
Shortbread gained prominence in Scotland as a scarce luxury, reserved by the common folk for special occasions such as Christmas. There are many traditions attached to it, which signals its historical prominence. Today, shortbread is a highly commercialized item, sold in tartan boxes throughout the country. On January 6, we come together to share our deep love for this ultimate Scottish snack.
National Shortbread Day timeline
France and Scotland form the Auld Alliance, and French chefs popularize shortbread in the kitchens of Scotland.
Mary, Queen of Scots, refines the recipe and promotes its triangular wedge structure.
Sugar is introduced in Scottish markets and becomes a permanent addition to the shortbread recipe.
Shortbread becomes Scotland’s premium biscuit and is even served during the Parliament sittings.
National Shortbread Day FAQs
What is the difference between the recipe for shortbread and sugar cookies?
The sugar cookie recipe includes a leavening component, such as baking soda, to make it lighter and fluffier. The shortbread recipe does not include baking soda or powder, which is why it’s dense and rustic.
Can you make sugar-free shortbread?
Yes. Sugar-free shortbread is possible and tastes exactly the same. Just switch the granulated sugar with one cup of sugar substitutes like erythritol, stevia, or xylitol.
How long does shortbread last?
Shortbread travels well and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month. Time has no impact on the texture and taste of this great Scottish delight.
National Shortbread Day Activities
Take a crash course on Scottish history
There’s more to Scotland than scotch eggs and whiskey. This wonderful, historically independent island has seen the rise and fall of many empires. Its cultural significance stands out and January 6 is the day we take a deep dive into its history.
Bake a batch, or a dozen
The holiday season might come to an end in January, but the celebrations don’t have to stop. Fill your home with the smell of fresh-baked biscuits and send a batch to your friends and family.
Put your own spin on the recipe
The traditional shortbread recipe is equal parts sugar and butter in flour, but there are many variations of this delicacy. The Pakistani ‘Nankhatai’ calls for an addition of yogurt and salt in the flour, whereas the Danish ‘Sablé’ is flavored with lemon zest. This National Shortbread Day, don’t hold back and open yourself up to some experimentation with this classic recipe.
5 Facts About Scotland That’ll Make You Want To Book A Ticket
A land of myths and legends
In Scotland, the myths and legends outnumber the people — even the national animal of the land is a unicorn.
It’s a party of redheads
At 13%, Scotland has the highest concentration of redheads anywhere in the world.
Enough islands for a lifetime
Scotland has over 790 islands, many of which contribute greatly to the country’s tourism revenue.
Come for the whiskey, stay for gin
Scottish whiskey is world-famous indeed, but Scotland also produces over 100 kinds of gins, including Islay’s only dry gin.
When it rains, Scots invent
Scotland native Charles Macintosh invented waterproof fabric, which was later used for raincoats.
Why We Love National Shortbread Day
Keeps the holiday spirit going
It’s difficult to say goodbye to the holidays and jump back into our work routines. With National Shortbread Day, we have the chance to prolong the holiday spirit a little longer by indulging in this delicious treat.
It’s a great treat for a little effort
It’s amazing that a three-ingredient recipe can deliver this much taste. Shortbread is an incredible addition to our evening tea, and January 6 is a great day to bake a few batches that can be stored in your pantry for a month.
It honors Mary, the great Queen of Scots
Queen Mary was the most consequential monarch of Scotland. She remains an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of Great Britain and is the reason shortbread gained international prominence. We’ll take any excuse to celebrate this great icon.
National Shortbread Day dates