Nanny’s Famous Shortbread

Nanny, my paternal grandmother, was quite famous for her shortbread.  Any time butter – real butter, of course – went on sale, she’d buy up as much as she could carry.  Because, you know, butter freezes so well.

But then, to make room in the freezer, she’d have to take out some previously purchased on-sale butter.  And then, to use up all this butter, she’d make shortbread.  And of course part of this cycle was making room in the freezer for more shortbread by taking out some shortbread and serving it to whoever happened to come visit.

The upside to this was shortbread pretty much anytime we went to visit, and of course there are few people who complain about that!  The thing about Nanny’s shortbread is that she insisted that it was better after it had been frozen, so wouldn’t serve it unless it had been in the freezer.  I’m not sure if this really made a difference or not, but I do put mine in the freezer!

After she died when I was in my teens, we went many years without her shortbread.  Mom makes great shortbread, and so do many other people, but as I got older, I wanted Nanny’s recipe to add to my collection.  I spent a number of years asking various relatives if they had her super special, top-secret recipe.  Finally cousin I don’t see too often said that yes, she had it!  In fact, she still made it every year.  I asked if she could write it out for me, and she said of course she could.  But…. if I had a box of cornstarch at home, it was just the recipe off the Canada Cornstarch box!

So now, I make Nanny’s shortbread every year, and though I do sneak a couple still warm from the oven, I put the rest into the freezer for a few days before serving.  And, I make them like Nanny did – little balls, flattened with the bottom of a smooth bottomed glass, with fork holes poked into the top.  Delicious!

Here is the recipe she always used.

½ cup Canada Corn Starch
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup sifted plain flour
¾ cup butter

Sift cornstarch, flour, icing sugar together. Using either your fingers or two forks, mix in the butter, until a soft dough is formed.

Shape into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Flatten with a lightly floured fork.

Bake the cookies at 300 F/ 150 C for 15 – 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. These will be soft when they come out, so make sure you let them cool before you take them off the cookie sheet.

You can decorate them with bits of candied fruit or nuts, before baking. Alternately roll out fairly thick and cut into shapes.


  1. I’m going to try these Beej. I have lost my Moms recipe, which was different and I’m sad about losing it. So I’ll do your Granny’s instead💕


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