My husband grew up knowing shortbread from a different recipe, the one from the "Canada Cornstarch" box. We each thought "our" shortbread was the best. The good natured argument went on for a bit until one Christmas early in our marriage I decided to have a side by side "taste test". I made both recipes and we voted for our favorite. We both liked the cornstarch recipe the best so from that point on it was the one I used, except for one important modification. I made it larger. The recipe on the box only makes 2 dozen. Are they serious? That wouldn't last one evening around this house! Besides I kind of liked the way my grandmother's recipe used up the whole pound of butter.
So here's my adaptation of the cornstarch recipe. I've "super-sized" it so that it takes a whole pound of butter and makes about 5 dozen cookies and I've also simplified the mixing method.
Using an electric mixer, cream together one pound of (room temperature) butter, 1 1/3 cups of icing sugar and 1 1/3 cups of corn starch. Gradually add 3 cups of flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board/countertop and knead until well blended. Roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F. for 15 - 20 minutes until just the outside edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
The recipe itself has not been my only break with tradition. My mom used a medium sized cookie cutter with a wavy edge (like the cookies on the left). When I got married I could not find the same kind of cookie cutter and had to substitute the flower-ish shape on the right. For years I searched for a cookie cutter like my mom's so that I could have shortbread the way it "should" be. Finally last year I found one. In the meantime my own children have grown up with shortbread made with the flower-ish cutter --- the ones on the right.
A few days ago my married daughter mentioned that she had made a batch of shortbread. She was complaining that it didn't look the way it "should". You see, she can't find a cookie cutter with "bumps" like mine. All she has is a cookie cutter with a wavy edge. Bwahaha! Bumpy or wavy, there is one thing we both agree on: Shortbread must have three rows of fork pricks to look "right". Left plain they look naked, or blind, or somethin'.
I guess traditions are whatever you get used to.
Incidentally, I believe my mother has abandoned her mother's recipe and now makes whipped shortbread.