It is a classic Scottish dessert that consists of three basic ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter.
It resulted from the form of medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a dry, sweetened biscuit called a rusk.
Eventually, yeast from the original rusk recipe was replaced by butter, which was becoming more of a staple in the burgeoning diet of the British Isles.
This type of shortbread was baked, cut into triangular wedges, and flavoured with caraway seeds.
Shortbread was expensive and reserved as a luxury for special occasions such as Christmas, Hogmanay (the Scot’s New Year’s Eve), and weddings. In Shetland, it is still traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the doorstep to her new home.