Petticoat tails are a type of delicate Scottish shortbread that look like the bottom of ladies’ petticoats from the olden days. The biscuits/cookies are more thin than traditional shortbread fingers, and are perfect with a cup of tea.
If you’re a shortbread fan, you’ve probably heard of, seen or eaten petticoat tails.
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You may not have thought anything about the name, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. The cut of the biscuits (shortbread is considered a biscuit in Scotland) or cookies, is in a certain shape–different than traditional Scottish shortbread fingers.
What are Petticoat Tails?
Petticoat tails are a specific thinner cut and triangular shaped shortbread, with fork marks at the large end, which is reminiscent of the ruffles of women’s petticoats. You can easily see how similar they are to the old-fashioned article of clothing in this picture below–cute, huh?
One of the nice things about petticoat tails is that there’s no special equipment or mould needed: just a few everyday kitchen tools and a plate.
While researching what people want to know about petticoat tails, I came across the following question and feel compelled to answer it correctly. There is a lot of misinformation floating around regarding specific foods where I am qualified to give you the factual answers.
A recipe from the Lofty Peak Scottish cookbook: custard creams.
The cook book in the photo below is an example of the types of recipes I share with you: authentic, vintage recipes straight from where I grew up: Scotland.
What is the Difference Between Scottish Shortbread and Regular Shortbread?
As a Scot, I can tell you that the only difference between Scottish shortbread and regular shortbread is that Scottish shortbread is regular shortbread that has been made in Scotland. Essentially, there IS NO DIFFERENCE because shortbread can only be made in one basic manner.
There can be rice flour or semolina added to either shortbread, or different flavors, or ingredients like lemon rind, but it’s always shortbread, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are recipes which include an egg, but that is absolutely not the classic and traditional three ingredient shortbread that is most popular recipe in Scotland.
As with all of my baking recipes, I recommend using a scale for best results.
Adapted from a Lofty Peak Recipe makes 16 pieces
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Preheat oven to 375º F (190 ºC)
Mix the butter and sugar together, but do not cream the ingredients as you would when making a cake.
Once it’s mixed together, add the flour and mix until a dough forms which you will use to make your petticoat tails.
Turn out onto a floured worktop and bring it together into a smooth dough and divide into two equal pieces. Create a ball from each piece and roll one into a 7″ round.
The easiest way is to use a 7″ plate to measure the dough. Shape or cut the edges to form a perfect round, and repeat with the other dough.
You can use a knife to score the petticoat tail dough into pieces, but again, I like to use my cake lifter. Score in half, then quarters, and finally eighths.
Prick the pieces with a fork, then uses the tines to create the petticoat ruffles at the outer edges. Push down about half way when pricking and making the ruffled edge.
Place into the center of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the edges are just starting to color. Remove from oven.
Dust with sugar immediately, cut into pieces, and put on a cooling rack until completely cool. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with a piping hot cup of tea!
Petticoat tails will stay fresh if you keep them in a biscuit tin, for up to two weeks.
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- 4 oz (113 g) butter, good quality is important (if using unsalted, add ¼ tsp salt)
- ¼ c (50 g) sugar
- 1 ⅓ c plus 1 Tbsp (170 g) all purpose/plain flour
- Mix the butter and sugar together, but do not cream the ingredients as you would when making a cake.
- Once it's mixed together, add the flour and mix until a dough forms which you will use to make your petticoat tails.
- Turn out onto a floured worktop and bring it together into a smooth dough and divide into two equal pieces. Create a ball from each piece and roll one into a 7" round.
- Shape or cut the edges to form a perfect round, and repeat with the other dough. If cutting, hold the plate on the dough and run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the plate. Remove any loose dough.
- Move the petticoat tails rounds to a baking tray lined in parchment or silicone mat. I like to use my large cake lifter, but if you don't have one you can use a bench scraper or spatulas.
- Use a knife (or cake lifter edge) to score the petticoat tail dough into pieces. Score in half, then quarters, and finally eighths.
- Prick the pieces with a fork, then uses the tines to create the petticoat ruffles at the outer edges. Push down about half way when pricking and making the ruffled edge. (See photo in main post.)
- Place into the center of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the edges are just starting to color. Remove from oven.
- Dust with sugar immediately and put on a cooling rack until completely cool. Keep in a tin for up to two weeks.
- I HIGHLY recommend using a scale with the metric measurements for this recipe
- The easiest way to cut the round is to use a 7" plate to measure the dough.
- You can make my first, classic recipe for shortbread (which is double the amount of this recipe) and make some fingers and some petticoat tails, or even cut outs. The possibilities are endless.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
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