The Best Shortbread for Winter Afternoon Tea
Winter’s on the way, the nights are drawing in and we’re thinking about Christmas hampers to send abroad to friends and relatives. One staple of Christmas gift baskets and hampers is good British shortbread, so we thought we’d review some on offer in Waitrose alongside our own homemade one and another from a small Devon bakery called Teoni’s which we first came across a year or so ago and have been enjoying ever since.
The shortbreads for testing were Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread, which is probably the best known shortbread and the one with the largest production volume in the UK (they are Scotland’s biggest food exporter), Waitrose All Butter Shortbread Fingers, Waitrose Duchy Organic Highland All Butter Shortbread Petticoat Tails (which is something of an unpleasant mouthful before you even open the packet) and Teoni’s All Butter Shortbread.
We also intended to include our own homemade shortbread. It’s from a simple 1970’s cookbook which Thorn put out with their cookers over 40 years ago (bizarrely, it is still possible to buy the book from Amazon). Unfortunately, a combination of disasters on the appointed day meant that the chef cocked up and the resulting biscuit-like material was too awful to even feed to the chickens. Good job you can buy a decent shortbread!
We roped in two young assistants to gain the ‘youth’ perspective, got out the best Wedgewood and favourite cups and spent a happy half hour rating the shortbreads on taste, appearance and presentation.
In 4th place with 49/90 points, we have the Duchy organic. Decent packaging, but taste poor and appearance very poor – crumbled, thin and ‘too like a biscuit’.
In 3rd place, and only slightly beating the poor Duchy with 51/90, we have Walkers. This shortbread scored terribly for taste, but the finger shape and dimples raised its overall score (though ‘too thin’ got a mention) and the tartan packaging and ‘Walkers’ name earned it some extra points with the youngsters.
In 2nd place we have Waitrose, with a very good 62/90 for their very ordinary looking shortbread. Great flavour, good thick fingers and dimpled too! The packaging rather undersells the shortbread, as it really is rather good. They should be proud of themselves at Waitrose for this one.
In 1st place (and a less magnanimous reviewer might say only because of our kitchen disaster), is a worthy winner – Teoni’s All Butter Shortbread with 79/90. It scored highest in all categories except appearance where the young people’s prejudice over dimpled fingers marked it down slightly. So it’s the best shortbread with a great flavour and really good packaging (sturdy and unusual), but it’s not a finger!
With regard to price and ingredients, the Waitrose one is by far the best value at 89p for 200g, and Teoni’s is by far the most expensive at about £2.75 to £3.75 for 150g depending where you buy it and the Teoni’s is the simplest with the only 3 ingredients you should need– flour, butter and sugar.
Our recommendation is that if you love your Granny, give her Teoni’s, and we’ll be putting them into our luxury Christmas hampers, but if you really can’t afford them, the ordinary Waitrose is a pretty good offering.