Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home
This is much like classic shortbread. The key to baking these is observation. A light touch will tell you when they are done. Being slightly firm tells you they are ready.
Take a pound and a half of fine flour, one pound of cold butter, half a pound of sugar, work all these well together into a paste, then roll it with the palms of your hands into round balls, and cut them with a thin knife into thin cakes, sprinkle a little flour on a sheet of paper, and put them on; prick them with a fork and bake them.
— Briggs, Richard, “The English Art of Cookery”
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 sticks, or 1/2 lb. butter
- 1 cup sugar
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add flour in thirds to the mixture. Remove the mixture by scraping with a spatula or knife and place on hard surface and knead until well mixed and smooth. Dough will be stiff.
- Form into four balls, one the size of a tennis ball and reducing in size as you go until the smallest ball is about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
- Slice dough 1/4” thick with a sharp, smooth knife. Place on parchment paper or lightly greased cookie sheets.
- Bake at 350, 12-18 minutes until the centers of the large cakes are set when lightly pressed with your finger.
- After cooling, remove from cookie sheet. To form into a pyramid shape, use the larger cakes on the base, and stack the next smaller ones on top. Sift confectioner’s sugar on top (optional).