My mom got her hands on an old collection of recipes from the olden days. It is a thick wad of loose pages clipped together and well-thumbed by many ladies. It has a bunch of shortbread recipes, all with the names of the women who made them famous attached. I have been working my way through them each Christmas. This year, while I don't think I have exactly replicated Nana's recipe, I found one that I think I am happy with - it has a good balance of flakiness and firmness and I managed to bake them at a low enough temperature that none of them got the least bit brown. Also nobody in my family seemed to be able to stop eating them - I ended up making three batches in a week!
So here you go: the recipe.
3 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 c icing sugar
2 c (1 pound) room-temperature butter.
1. Cream together the butter and the sugar. I used my (clean and scrubbed) hands to do this - you can use your hands for the whole recipe - fewer dishes and more likely to closely resemble the methods of Mrs. Periwinkle of 1915 Saskatoon, right?
2. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until the mixture is crumbly and fluffy.
3. Press the dough into an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. This recipe fills half a 18 by 13 inch jelly roll pan so you could do a double recipe or use a smaller pan, which I didn't have. Prick the dough deeply with a fork all over.
4. Bake for an hour and twenty minutes (about) at 270ºF - I put the timer on for 20 minutes at a time and checked them. Don't let them start to brown or turn golden around the edges!
5. Use a pizza cutter or a really sharp knife to slice the cookies into fingers and let cool. The serve them up! They were very popular with Santa this year. :)