Proper British Shortbread 24.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 2, 2020

Shortbread is the perfect, delicate nibble to go along with a cup of tea (or coffee, if you must). We were completely entranced by this Mary Berry recipe, which boasts a sandy, melt-in-your-mouth quality. Another bonus: It only requires five ingredients, a single bowl and mere minutes to assemble.

Berry uses semolina for extra crunch, but for an even more meltaway mouthfeel, try cornstarch or rice flour. We liked the flavor and texture of the demerara sugar on top, although you can leave it off if you prefer.

Make Ahead: The shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 24 servings; makes one 9-by-13 slab

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups (226 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) semolina
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Have ready a 9-by-13 baking pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on low speed just until combined. (You're only looking to incorporate them, not add a lot of air to the mixture.) Alternately, you can use a handheld mixer or even a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Stir in the flour and semolina on low speed until combined. The dough won't come together into a cohesive mass, so don't be surprised if it's crumbly. Clumps, however, should form when pressed together between your fingers. You can briefly knead the dough by hand, if needed.

Press the mixture into the pan, level and smooth the top using the bottom of a dry measuring cup or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar, and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until pale golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the slab to form 24 triangles (we accomplished this with three rows of four squares that we then cut in half). Let the shortbread cool completely in the pan before lifting the pieces out.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes in Minutes," by Mary Berry (Quercus, 2019).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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