Aunt Kate’s shortbread


  • 200g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 Small egg (50g)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 300g flour
  • 100g rice flour, arrowroot or tapioca flour


Aunt Kate was one of the Thorburn sisters who lived at Meroogal from the 1890s until the 1940s. Their family recipes have been preserved by Kate's niece Helen McGregor, who transcribed them into a ledger in the early to mid-1900s.

This recipe makes a thick 'cake' that is cut into points or fingers once cooked, but it will also work for smaller biscuits if that is what you prefer.

A note on the original recipe says, 'always make on a cold day'. With this in mind I've suggested you pop the dough into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up before rolling it out.



Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and lemon juice and beat well.
Sift the flours, then, using a wooden spoon, fold them into the butter mixture until completely mixed through. With floured hands, lightly knead the dough until it's smooth. Divide it into two or three portions, cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll out each piece of dough into a neat round or rectangle, about 1 cm thick. Alternatively, cut the dough into individual biscuits. Prick holes in the dough with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife.

Put the shortbread onto the baking tray and bake until beginning to colour and the edges have started to brown (approximately 30–35 minutes, less if you are making individual biscuits).

Transfer the shortbread to a rack for 10–15 minutes to cool and firm up a little (the butter makes it very soft when hot), then transfer it to a board and cut into pieces while still warm. Store in an airtight container once completely cooled.

Have you tried this recipe?

Use the comments box below to upload comments and photos.