Wee Willy’s Probably Authentic Scottish Shortbread


This fourth-generation recipe originated with my Great Grandmother, Williamina Bain McLeod Black. She emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland with her husband and son around 1911. The family settled in San Francisco, where my grandmother, Helen Black Garden was born. Wee Willy, as she was known by those close to her, stood only five feet tall, but had a personality that could fill the room. Of course she claimed this simple recipe as her own, but those who knew her thought it entirely possible that it came from a random issue of Redbook or Better Homes & Gardens.

My mother, Mary Margaret Garden Pritchard, has always held this recipe close to her heart and baked countless batches of shortbread every Christmas, filling the Pritchard household of my youth with the scent of sweet, buttery goodness. Enjoy this recipe and remember to enjoy a nip of the Glenfiddich while you bake, raising your glass on occasion to the memory of Williamena and Helen.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Sift the flour once, then sift it again with the sugar and salt.
  3. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, until it starts to form a ball. Use hands to finish mixing.
  4. Press the dough evenly into a 9-inch shortbread pan or tart pan. If using the tart pan, you can add a decorative pattern with a fork and score the dough (maybe 1/8 inch deep) into 12 equal wedges before baking.
  5. Bake at 325 F for about 45 minutes or until golden on top.