This is Elizabeth’s all-time, favorite, shortbread. Every year she says her mother-in-law’s 4 ingredient, easy holiday shortbread is so good she could open a stall at a farmer’s market and sell out in no time at all! She looks foward to Christmas just to get the shortbread!
Not only do they taste good but with only 4 ingredients to deal with and a few minutes in a food processor, they are quick and easy to make. A Christmas-classic in Australia, read on for the recipe and also how Australians celebrate Christmas from a food perspective.
A Southern Hemisphere Christmas Experience
For northern hemisphere visitors holidaying in Australia over the Christmas period, it can be a slightly surreal experience. Australia is in the midst of summer and this can be quite confronting as you need to change your expectations as to what you will experience.
For a start it is stays light until 9pm or later and maybe 10pm before total darkness sets in. Think about that for a moment. Christmas lights don’t really take hold until this time and by then you are at home (not driving around). So it can appear Australians don’t think much about Christmas decorations but nothing could be further from the truth.
Many families buy a “live” pine tree from a charity or local scout group and decorate it with all of the normal decorations and Christmas lights you would see in colder climes. What you may not see as much of are the external decorations, think of the Chevy Chase scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. I am always amazed when I travel to the US to see the effort involved in decorating the outside of a house.
Traditional Cold Climate Christmas Cooking Still Reigns Supreme in Australia
Of course being in summer, it’s warm and sometimes very hot on Christmas Day. But trust me that doesn’t dent the enthusiasm for most people to cook a traditional, Christmas Dinner. When I was younger, Christmas Dinner usually meant Roast Chicken and/or (usually and) Roast Pork, and roast veggies, with gravy. As well there was always “ham on the bone”, a great Christmas pleasure to order for pick up on Christmas Eve. Yes 3 different meats on your plate, no wonder Christmas is so looked forward to!
Dessert was always home-made Plum Pudding, with hard sauce or custard. As well mum would toss some coins into the mix as a pleasant surprise (until the food police intervened and advised people not to do this. Spoilt sports!). It didn’t matter it was sometimes 90 degrees fahrenheit (32 degrees celcius) and sometimes warmer. We always had a traditional style (English) Christmas Dinner and we always ate in our formal dining room with our best silverware. In addition, we would always have savory mince pies, home-made Christmas cake and shortbread. And then we would have a nap! You can read more about Melbourne’s British heritage here.
Over the years, other ingredients became more popular and cheaper and the Christmas roast might be duck, goose or turkey (but always pork as well). But during the 1980’s a metamorphosis took place and people started embracing a more casual approach to Christmas.
Casual Summer BBQ’s are Making an Impact at Christmas
Think seafood (Australian rock lobster and prawns are particularly popular). Anything on the BBQ, although a little more gourmet than just throwing a “shrimp on the barbie”. Think of a rack of pork done on a Weber BBQ, marinated chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs for the kids, even gourmet sausages or maybe pink lamb loin chops. And don’t forget the salads, crisp white wines and cold, refreshing beers. No more eating in the dining room, its outside under the pergola to make the most of the great Aussie weather at this time of the year.
My gut feel is that about 30% of Australians celebrate Christmas in this fashion and about 70% still do the traditional roast. And the Rudd clan? We have never broken tradition and have persevered with the traditional roast. But let me tell you a little secret. There has been a changing of the guard and this year we are breaking with British tradition and for the first time ever are going more casual with an Australian-style BBQ by the pool.
But one thing I can tell you is that certain components are not changing and shortbread will still be on the menu! The best part is that all of my siblings receive a “tuck box” of these delightful treats to take home. Bring on Christmas, can’t wait!
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- 2 cups flour, all purpose (plain)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 8 ozs butter cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- Pre-heat oven to to 300 f (150 c).
- Measure flour and icing sugar into food processor and mix for a few seconds. Add the butter pieces.
- Process turning on and off until mixture forms fine crumbs, about 30 seconds. Then process continually until mixture clumps onto the blades. Stop the processor.
- Turn onto a 9" (23cm) square baking tin. Gather into a ball and then press evenly into the corners of the tin. Smooth with a metal spatula. Pierce well with a fork and pre-cut into serving size pieces (this helps stops crumbling during the final cutting).
- Bake in the oven until firm and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with caster sugar.
- While still warm, cut into pieces. Allow to cool completely in the tin and then carefully remove the cut pieces. Store in an airtight jar.
What simple and sweet dessert/treat! I love that all the ingredients i already have in my pantry! There is nothing worse then looking at a recipe only to find you’re missing 3/4 of it… love this! 🙂 Wonderful
Kaiti, spot on with this simple recipe. Thanks for your comment.
Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy
Oh my, this looks amazing! This looks like the perfect recipe for shortbread!
And so simple I can’t believe it. Thanks for your comment.
Jillian @ Food, Folks and Fun
I absolutely love shortbread. I can’t wait to try your recipe!
Thank you Jillian. Just a few normal, every day ingredients for something that tastes so good.
Rebekah | Kitchen Gidget
I love shortbread! Few ingredients – big on taste!
Yes sometimes I think it is like eating pure butter. Just divine. Thanks for your comment.
Can’t get much easier than that. I love shortbread!
Jenn, I still can’t quite work out how something so simple could taste so good. Thanks for your comment.
Debi at Life Currents
I love shortbread! I haven’t made it in years. Thanks for the reminder!
Yes shortbread can be a little like that. Once you have enjoyed a piece you never forget it. Thanks for your comment.
Good thing to try a bbq party! But maybe even better to decided to keep the shot bread traditionele! I should really try these my selfservice!
Any time is a good time for shortbread Simon. Thanks for your comment.
Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
I do love shortbread though I’m much more familliar with the Scottish variety. I had no idea it was an Australian thing! I’m also so surprised that so many people do a roast. Even in England in the summer we give up the roast coz its too heavy. I think I’d much prefer a Christmas BBQ. Great post 🙂
Emma, yes it is a bit funny how popular roast is in Australia over summer. Shortbread is a big thing here but it is all based on the Scottish version. Thanks for your comment.
I love these thick short bread 🙂 perfect for our chilly snowy weather today 🙂
You are right there Farida, perfect for a snow day and fills the house with great aromas. Thanks for your comment.
I love short bread cookies but have never made them. I’d like a few of these with my current cup of hot tea. Yum.
Give them a try. Only a few everyday ingredients and simple to make. Thanks for your comment.
Sherri @ Watch Learn Eat
This shortbread looks fabulous! Oh, I can almost taste it! 🙂
Shortbread is a bit like that. Thanks for your comment.
These look SO easy to make and SO delicious to eat…perfect recipe! 🙂 Can’t wait to try – thanks for sharing!!
It is surprisingly simple to make but the taste is anything but. Thanks for your comment.
Shortbread is one of my top holiday weaknesses! This looks amazing!
Me too. I just love it.
Shortbread is one of my favourite things about Christmas, and this version looks delicious 🙂 Love hearing the little tidbits about your christmas traditions!
Donna, what I love about shortbread is how simple it is. Thanks for your kind comments.
Olivia @ Olivia's Cuisine
Shortbread is one of my biggest weaknesses. I could eat that whole tray by myself! Especially because they are looking AMAZING.
I only usually have them around the holiday period. They are dangerously good and like you I can eat them all in one sitting. Thanks for your comment.
WOW these look really good!
I find it hard it hard to stop at one. Thanks for your comment.