Although Berlin (Kitchener) was heavily influenced by the Germanic settlers in the area there were also people of Scots descent in the surrounding areas. Therefore shortbread is one of the staple cookies, served in historic houses in this area. I worked in most of them over the years so I’ve made a lot of short bread! However, the historic site where I work has been closed to the public for the past nine months and I have actually started to miss short bread. Today I decided to try making Mrs. T. E. McLean’s Scotch Short Bread recipe found in the cake section of the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I’ve never seen a recipe for short bread that includes an egg. The technique of adding egg and flour first is also new to me but I am committed to following these recipes as accurately as possible so I beat one medium egg and then added it to one pound (eight cups) of flour. Next I added one pound (2 cups) of butter and one pound (2 cups) of sugar. Kneading well was a challenge particularly as I was using a bowl one size too small. I’m not sure a large bowl would make a difference. The proportions of this recipe are different from the one I normally use (2 cups butter to 1 cup sugar and 4 cups flour). I’m not sure one egg can make up for another 2 cups of butter. I ended up patting the shortbread crumbs into pans and baking it that way as I couldn’t roll or cut it. I baked it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Mrs. T. E. McLelan contributed many recipes for the cook book even though she didn’t live in Berlin. I’m not sure how Margaret (Maggie) Lillico McDougall wife of Thomas E. McLellan became involved with this cook book since they live in Galt (now part of Cambridge). This recipe is not surprising since Galt was a very Scottish part of Waterloo County. Mr. McLellan and their two boys would be very familiar with short bread. Perhaps this recipe comes from Maggie’s mother since she lived with them for years.
The shortbread was better than I expected. It was a bit crumbly on top and yet hard on the bottom. I don’t think I’ll bother making this version of short bread again since I have a good recipe already. For me the addition of an egg is a negative since I avoid them whenever possible.
SCOTCH SHORT BREAD
1 lb. butter, 1 lb. sugar, 2 lbs. flour, 1 egg. Mix the egg well beaten into the flour, add the sugar and butter, knead well, until thoroughly mixed. Roll and cut in shape and bake in moderate oven.