Colum MacKenzie shared the broad planes and high forehead of his brother Dougal, though the vital force that gave Dougal an air of intimidation was here mellowed into something more welcoming, though no less vibrant. Darker, with dove-grey rather than hazel eyes, Colum gave that same impression of intensity, of standing just slightly closer to you than was quite comfortable. At the moment, though, my discomfort arose from the fact that the beautifully modeled head and long torso ended in shockingly bowed and stumpy legs. The man who should have topped six feet came barely to my shoulder.
Outlander, chapter 5, "The MacKenzie"
The recipe for Colum's Shortbread below is likely very different to the shortbread made in Castle Leoch's 18th Century kitchens.
Early shortbread was made from remnants of bread dough and contained oatmeal and yeast. It was sprinkled with a scant amount of sugar, then slow-baked in a cool oven. This produced a hard, dry biscuit -- a long-lasting, sturdy snack that traveled well.
Modern recipes use butter and flour to produce a melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavor that are quickly reduced to crumbs in your pocket, but are much better suited to the more delicate palates of today.
Sometimes, the baked good just fits the man.
Yield: 9” pan
- All-Purpose Flour – 1½ Cups
- Sugar – ½ Cup
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Butter, cold – ¾ Cup
Move rack to middle position and heat oven to 300° F. Butter a 9” square or round pan.
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Grate butter into flour mixture and blend well using your fingertips, until everything resembles the texture of sand.
Press firmly into prepared pan and freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, prick dough all over with a fork, and bake until edges are just golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares or wedges (petticoat tails).
Serve with tea for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Store in a covered container for up to 5 days.
- I experimented with several recipes, some using rice and/or oat flour before settling on this one. In my opinion, it produces the most consistent results and best flavour/texture.