Polka Dot Petticoat Tails

Saturday 25 August 2018

It should come as no surprise that one of our very favourite teatime treats are shortbreads. They are so buttery and not overly sweet, crumbly and go great with a hot drink, or even milk for that matter.  
Scottish shortbread has to be some of the best shortbread on the planet. Just walk into any shop in Scotland and you will find shelves lined with barrels, tins and packets of shortbread biscuits! 

Scottish Petticoat Tails are even better, because first of all the name, and second of all the name.  haha. How can you not love something called a Petticoat Tail!

That is also no surprise. The fact that Scottish shortbread is so tasty. Scottish cookery historically has been influenced by the French at the court of Mary Queen of Scots, and later through dishes served to British Lords with Scottish Estates. 
The story of shortbread begins with a medieval "Biscuit Bread."  Originally it began as leftover dough from baking bread.  This was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk.  Later on, sugar was added, and the yeast replaced by butter, until eventually we had what is the relatively modern shortbread biscuit. 

Mary Queen of Scots was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread flavovured with caraway seeds.  
YUM! Have I told you that Mary Queen of Scots is one of my ancestors?  NO?  Well now you know that I come by my love for shortbreads honestly. Its in my genes and not just my jeans!

Petticoat tails.  How can you not enjoy or be in love with a biscuit named a petticoat tail. There are two theories regarding the naming of these biscuits. It has been suggested that the name “petticoat tail” may be a corruption of the French petites gatelles (“little cakes”). 
However these traditional Scottish shortbread biscuits may in fact date back beyond the 12th century. The triangles fit together into a circle and echo the shape of the pieces of fabric used to make a full-gored petticoat during the reign of Elizabeth I. 
The theory here is that the name may have come from the word for the pattern which was ‘tally’, and so the biscuits became known as ‘petticoat tallis’.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”); or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.”

This version I am showing you today is a version of Petticoat Tails to which I have added a tasty feature.  Little divets filled with jam. You could also use lemon curd.

The shortbread is scored lightly with a knife into triangles prior to baking.  You bake it for 10 minutes and then remove it from the oven.

At this point you take the end of a wooden spoon and make some "Divets" in the shortbread . . .  little dimples. Not all the way through, only about 3/4 of the way through. I have tried this with a chopstick, but it doesn't make a hole large enough . . .  the end of a wooden spoon is best.

Then you use a teaspoon to fill the holes with some jam, or curd.  Today I used three different kinds.  Fig Jam (from Tatiana's mom), Blackberry Jelly and Apricot Jam.

Don't be tempted to make too many divets.  Three is about right, and don't be tempted to overfill them.  A tiny bit is just enough! After that you pop them back into the oven and bake further just long enough for them to turn golden brown at the edges. No longer.

In the end you will be rewarded with perfectly crumbly delicious shortbread biscuits, with tasty little tidbits of jam scattered here and there!

Yield: 16

Polka Dot Petticoat Tails

A beautiful buttery, sandy textured shortbread filled with little divets of jam. Do not be tempted to overfill the divets, as it will expand on baking and ruin the look of your cookies.


245g of plain flour (1 3/4 cups all purpose flour)
35g ground rice (1/4 cup rice flour)
90g fine sugar (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
225g butter (1 cup) cut into bits
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 TBS of your favourite jams (a combination of three different ones is nice)


Preheat the oven to 165*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Have ready an 8-round
 tart tin with a fluted edge and removable bottom. Place this onto a
baking sheet.

Measure the flour, rice
flour, sugar, and salt into a food processer.  Blitz for a couple of
pulses.  Drop in the butter and vanilla.  Pulse until the mixture forms a
 dough.  Press the dough into the bottom of the tart tin, smoothing the
top. Lightly score into 16 wedges.  Bake for 10 minutes.

 from the oven and using the tip of a wooden spoon, make small divots
around the surface of the dough, going in about halfway down.  Fill the
dots with a small portion of jam, probably only about 1/8 tsp in each.

 to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes , or until golden
brown around the edges. (Don't be tempted to cook longer. You really
only want them golden around the edges.)  Place onto a wire rack and
allow to cool before cutting into wedges.

Note -
 Some nice flavours of jam are apricot, seedless bramble (Blackberry),
seedless raspberry, fig jam, etc. Lemon Curd is also very nice.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Polka Dot Petticoat Tails

I really hope you will give this version of Petticoat Tails a go. I think you will really enjoy them.  Why not serve them the next time you are having a tea party with the gals!  Very impressive!  Bon appetit and happy weekend! 

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  1. I have made these..my recipe is prob different..it's from my book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. The bok was a gift and I am still smitten.
    You know you can nevr have too many shortbread recipes..On a French blog..she posted a Scottish shortbread..gave them a try and loved them too;)

    1. You are right about not ever having too many short bread recipes! That is fascinating about the cookbook! Guess I am not as smart as I thought! You know what they say, there is nothing new under the sun! I think most shortbread recipes are the same. Baking is chemistry and to get the right shortness, there needs to be a perfect balance of ingredients! Hope you are having a great weekend! xoxo

  2. What a great idea to add the divots! I'm going to use this suggestion at Christmas and add green, red and golden jam - they'll look like sparkly jewels. Thank you~

  3. I am such a sucker for shortbread. I remember when you first posted petticoat tails. I printed it out but haven't made them. I think I might have to! I'm looking for an occasion so I won't be home alone with them for too long!

    Related to Mary Queen of Scots? I'm impressed! Of course you come by your shortbread passion genetically!

    1. Of course Jeanie! Thanks! I feel even more justified now!! You are right in not wanting to be home alone with these for very long, although they will freeze! xo


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