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Queen Mary's Petticoat Tails

  • 15 minutes
  • 25 minutes
  • Makes 9
Queen Mary's Petticoat Tails

A favourite it is said, of Mary, Queen of Scots. Caraway with its warm, sweet, biting taste, brightened baking in centuries past. Caraway is thought to be the oldest cultivated spice in Europe.


  • 2½ cups flour, sifted
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 175 grams butter, melted
  • ¼ cup tepid milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a baking tray or line with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sifted flour, caster sugar and caraway seeds. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Using a knife, stir in the melted butter and milk to make a heavy dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. The texture will be almost rubbery - quite different from other shortbreads on the website.
  5. Mould into a round and then carefully roll out to around 0.5cm thick. Transfer to the prepared tray.
  6. Cut into a perfect round shape, about 26cm in diameter, using a dinner plate inverted on top as a guide. Use a small sharp knife to trim away any excess.
  7. Using the forefinger of one hand and the forefinger and thumb on the other, pinch the edge all the way around.
  8. Use an 8-10cm round cutter to cut a circle out of the centre (an upturned glass is fine).
  9. Mark the wheel of shortbread in 8 even pieces with a knife, but do not cut all the way through. Place the circle on the tray.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden around the edges.
  11. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces, where marked.
  12. Transfer to a cake rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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