IF YOUR experience with shortbread biscuits is limited to bland, chalky specimens, please read on!

Yes, I know you can buy shortbread biscuits everywhere this time of year, but nothing comes close to baking a batch at home yourself this Christmastime.

It’s having a real version of something homemade, rather than the ‘buy-one-get-one-free’’ packed in a Christmas Scottie dog biscuit tin, that makes us appreciate them even more.

The simplicity of these biscuits makes them a wonderful base for desserts with ice cream and stewed fruits or maybe a crumbly topping for the Christmas trifle.

For me, the very best way to celebrate this humble biscuit is with a nice cup of tea or a glass of Mulled Wine on the run up to Christmas. The traditional Scottish shortbread biscuit is a big favourite in the biscuit business this time of year and should always make the mouth water,.

Over the centuries the ingredients used have changed quite a bit and if the 12th century Scot was to get a taste of modern day shortbread he might get quite a surprise! Today we always use butter and flour to produce that exquisite, melt-in-the-mouth flavour.

The first shortbreads were made from bread dough (hence the ‘’bread’’ part of the name) and contained oatmeal and yeast, being baked slowly for a dry and brittle rusk-like biscuit. They stayed fresh longer than bread, being a handy, portable snack - try putting a piece of today’s shortbreads in your pocket, it’s an entirely different animal!

The ‘’short’’ part of the name is an old term meaning crumbly, provided by the fat which stops gluten from developing. Historically shortbread biscuits have several rituals associated with them, like offering them to the first footers through the door on Hogmanay to welcome the New Year.

Another ritual is welcoming over the threshold the new bride and groom to their marital home, with the biscuit being broken over their heads. Nice!

The traditional shape was always round , and made into triangular wedges known as Petticoat Tails. This was a reminder of Elizabethan garments ladies wore under their dresses with the edges decorated by pinching with the thumb and forefinger... I’ll stop at that!

This is a fantastic, simple Chrismassy recipe to make – and do get the kids involved, they’ll have lots of fun making their very own personalised Christmas-shape biscuits to share with all the family over the holidays.

My adult mincemeat and whisky shortbread version is highly recommended too, and will guarantee to warm the cockles anytime of the day.

Many more of my Christmas recipes can be accessed online by simply visiting keighleynews.co.uk and clicking on What’s On, then Food & Drink, then Friend in Knead.