Yuletide: Scottish Shortbread

The following bit of history is from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  The book is an outstanding example of what a cookbook should be, and by far the finest one I've ever seen when it comes to any sort of bread.  I think they're more experts on baking than history, but so far everything else they've written about bread has proven to be right.  So why not 'history of bread'?
Scottish shortbread was originally made from oatmeal and was served on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  The edges of the round "cake" were notched, symbolizing the sun which was being entreated to return.  Nowadays in Scotland, shortbread is mostly made with wheat flour but the edges are still marked with those symbolic notches.  It is served on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) and New Year's morning to "first-footers," those revelers who have stayed up all night to see the New Year and are the first to go from house to house, visiting and celebrating.

Here at Grim's Hall, the old fashion is always the order of the day.  So, I modified the recipe to be made chiefly with oats, and am serving it on the Solstice.  This Hogmanay thing sounds like it could be fun too, though, especially since it seems to involve building and burning Viking longships.  Maybe some year we'll be able to swing the trip to Edinburgh for the celebration.


Anonymous said...

I thought Hogmanay was for burning tar barrels and Up Helly A! involved toasting a longship? I could be behind the times again. As usual.


dellbabe68 said...

And I thought I was the only weirdo who thought of you guys while I cooked with King Arthur's Flour! I contemplated taking a picture and posting it, but then my blackberry is filled with pictures I still have to post. Need to find those extra hours somwhere. Maybe they'll be under the tree. I'm just grateful that the annual zucchini cakes got done (12 batches); all but two delivered.

Merry Christmas to all of you. Hope you have a blessed year. I have; I'm as busy as I hoped I'd be! God's funny about answering some prayers in the affirmative.