Recipe: Salty lemon shortbread

Take the basic biscuit up a notch with this salty sweet twist

  • place PRE 15 minutes
  • place COOK 20 - 25 minutes
  • place SERVES 24
  • printicon

The preserved lemons are optional here (there’s plenty of salt and lemon in this recipe to justify the name even without their inclusion), but they really do produce a spectacularly jammy, salty, floral bop when you bite into a bit while nibbling on this otherwise straightforward shortbread. Don’t forget the sugar on top. The dough itself really isn’t sweet enough to carry the shortbread without it – plus, the way the zest gets a little crisp and dried along with it is a real chef’s kiss.


  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm round cake tin or 8 × 20 cm baking dish with baking paper.

  • In a small bowl, combine one-third of the lemon zest, the 2 tablespoons sugar and flaky salt. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the sugar is tinted yellow and smells deeply of lemon. Set aside.

  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or using a medium bowl and an electric hand-held mixer, or a food processor), beat the butter with the remaining 110g granulated sugar, the remaining lemon zest, the icing sugar, preserved lemon (if using), kosher salt and vanilla on medium–high speed until light and fluffy, 3–5 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down the side of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and beat just to blend.

  • Pat the dough into the cake tin, using your palm or the bottom of a cup to flatten the dough as well as you can. Using the tines of a fork, dock or prick the top of the dough. Sprinkle with the lemon-rubbed sugar, pressing it in.

  • Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, and the dough is set and firm to touch (but still slightly malleable), 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven. After about 10 minutes they should be firm enough to handle and lift out of the tin, but still warm enough to slice.

  • Remove the shortbread from the tin and cut into 2.5 cm wedges, or 2.5 × 7.5 cm bars. Let cool completely before eating.

    Note: The dough can be made 5 days ahead, wrapped tightly and refrigerated (or frozen for up to 1 month). The baked shortbreads can be stored airtight at room temperature for 3 days.

    Recipes extracted from: Sweet Enough (Hardie Grant)


Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
110g granulated sugar, plus 2 tbsp (25 g)
Good pinch of flaky sea salt
115g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2.5cm pieces
30g icing sugar
½ preserved lemon (optional), seeded and finely chopped
¾ tbsp (3 g) kosher salt
1 tsp (5 g) vanilla extract
145g plain flour

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