Matron Griffin’s To-Die-For Shortbread

Matron Griffin’s To-Die-For Shortbread

Matron Griffin’s To-Die-For Shortbread

One of my favorite chapters in Whitewashed Jacarandas is the one about the tea at Umzimtuti Hospital on Christmas morning when Matron Griffin circulates her to-die-for shortbread and Dr. Sunny Rubenstein bites off more than he can chew…you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.

Whitewashed Jacarandas has been selling like hot cakes this fall at the various book fairs I’ve attended up and down the Oregon coast. My son, Andrew, tells me I’m really selling myself at these affairs, but I’m not sure if it’s the book cover that attracts people to the table or the box of shortbread perched on the edge of the table beside the business and post cards, bookmarks, African memorabilia and flags.

The shortbread fairly melts away in the mouth, and out comes the wallet: works like magic. I’m even considering going into commercial production instead of selling coffee mugs with the logo. Stay connected to see where I go with this.

But for those of you who are do-it-yourselfers I’m sharing Matron Griffin’s recipe with you. First get yourself a new box of cornstarch, because I know you are used to using it sparingly by the teaspoonful for anything from gravy to thickening up the mascara, dubbing down glitzy nail polish and, for water conserving Californians, as a dry shampoo. But it’s most important use is by the cupful in to-die-for shortbread.

Here’s the recipe, just in time for Christmas. Give a box along with a copy of Whitewashed Jacarandas.

Matron Griffin’s to-die-for Shortbread

Right out of the archives of the New Umzimtuti Hospital

3 C flour

1 C cornstarch

1 tsp salt (don’t forget this)

2 C unsalted butter (1 lb) at room temperature

1 C sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F

Line 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt.

In the mixer using the paddle attachment whip the butter on high until white.

Gradually add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture in 4 or 5 additions creaming thoroughly between additions.

Turn the stiff dough into the prepared pan.

Use a metal spatula to spread the dough evenly.

Prick the surface all over with a fork.

Bake 35 minutes until the edges are barely coloring. (It would never do to brown the shortbread.)

Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before cutting into 1 inch squares.

Let cool completely before turning out the pan.


Invite a friend over. Make a hot, strong cup of tea and tuck in, lean back and enjoy the company.

In the unlikely event there is any shortbread left over, store between layers of wax paper or paper doilies in an air-tight box and freeze.