Secret ingredient Queen uses in shortbread to make ‘less glutenous’ & ‘melt in your mouth’

Shortbread: Waitrose shows simple recipe for delicious dessert

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Darren McGrady, former personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II released a video on his YouTube channel, giving away the royal shortbread recipe which has a key secret ingredient. In the video, McGrady reminisced of his days at the Queen’s Scottish residence, Balmoral Castle, saying he remembers making a batch of shortbread at least once a week to satisfy the Her Majesty’s famous sweet tooth. “The chefs loved heading up to Balmoral Castle. It’s a 50,000-acre estate and it’s just full of local ingredients and produce. The venison off the estate, the salmon from the river Dee; everything is just so fresh,” he explained. “To top it all, it has its own vegetable garden that supplies the house the whole time the Royal Family are there.” Rich and buttery shortbread has always been a staple on afternoon tea menus. It is a simple biscuit to make, and a standard recipe uses just three simple ingredients, butter, sugar and flour.

This being a royal recipe, however, there have to be more ingredients to make it extra special.

The first is the addition of vanilla paste, offering a delicate floral note which works wonderfully with earl grey tea.

The second addition, and crucial for the melt-in-the-mouth texture, is cornstarch.

According to McGrady: “The cornstarch softens the shortbread, and makes it less glutenous.

“Instead of snapping, it crumbles, and melts in your mouth.”

In this recipe, the royal chef uses a classic Scottish shortbread mould with a thistle, the emblem of Scotland.

Balmoral Shortbread Recipe


225g plain flour
225g butter
115g icing sugar
115g cornflour
One tsp salt
One to two tsp vanilla paste


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Add all of the ingredients, except the vanilla in a large bowl and mix together until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Then add the vanilla and lightly bring together.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead to form a dough.

Dust a classic Scottish shortbread mould with flour and press the dough into the mould.

Using a sharp knife, trim the top to make a flat surface.

Gently turn out the shortbread and place it onto a lined baking tray.

Using a fork, prick the surface of the shortbread all over and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Royal fans will want the shortbread to remain a light sandy colour.

Once baked, remove from the oven and, using a sharp knife, score the surface of the shortbread into wedges.

According to McGrady, this will create a defined break when it comes to portioning.

Dust the surface with sugar and leave to cool for at least one hour.

Royal fans can enjoy their royal shortbread with a cup of tea of their choice.

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