Imperial Girl

I am not going to mention the Q-word today.
Instead I'm going to indulge in a bit of grumpy-old-woman.
On Thursday I made a huge batch of gingernuts. Today there are three left and it was not I who ate them all. More biscuits were needed and I fancied some shortbread. I hadn't made shortbread in an age. I decided that instead of making a big slab of shortbread I'd make biscuits. 
Now, here comes the grumpy-old-woman bit, my recipe was in metric. I don't have a problem with metric measurements as such, but when they make things more complicated I do. Shortbread is such an old, traditional recipe I feel it should not be metricated. T'aint natural. 
The recipe I was using called for 85g sugar, 170g butter, 230g flour and 30g cornflour. I began to weigh the ingredients out. As I did so I looked at the imperial calibrations on my scale and remembered what I had forgotten: that the weights for shortbread ingredients were a simple formula.
1 part sugar : 2 parts butter : 3 parts flour
This was one of the first cookery lessons I remember learning. To make a round of shortbread you need 2oz sugar, 4oz butter and 6oz flour.
85g is 3oz, 170g is 6oz , 230g is 8oz and 30g is 1oz (give or take) -much simpler, much more logical.

Yes, I am an imperial girl and if you think Great Britain is fully metricated why is milk still sold in pints? True, the volume is given in litres on the cartons, but it isn't 1 litre or 2 litres is it? it's 1.13l or 2.27l which is of course 2 pints and 4 pints. The cream I buy comes in 284ml cartons, in other words half a pint. Golden syrup comes in 454g or 907g tins - 1lb and 2lb, and who buys 568 ml of beer in a pub? 

Imperial Shortbread Biscuits

3oz caster sugar
6oz soft butter -don't even think about using margarine
8oz plain flour
1oz cornflour

Beat the soft butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Electric beaters make light of this.
Stir in the sifted flours working the mixture together to form a smooth dough.
Roll out about a quarter of an inch.
Cut with a 3inch biscuit cutter. You should get about 20.
Place on baking sheets that you have greased or lined with baking parchment. I like reusable baking liners.
Bake for 12-15 mins at 180c or 160c if you have a fan oven/350F/gas 4
They should be pale so don't overcook them.

Pounds and ounces forever!


  1. Oh I agree! I tend to use pounds and ounces much more than grams. I was very disappointed when they told me my babies weight in kilos when he was born. Babies should forever be in imperial!

  2. Am an imperial girl too - I measured the boys this morning - the only tape I could initially find was in cm's - I've no idea what 183cm means - when I found a tape with both measurements I instantly knew that big son had got even bigger!!

    And ditto what MsC said - babies only weight properly in lbs & ozs - I asked for conversion with both mine as kg means nothing.

  3. Yum yum. I prefer the old methodology too. x

  4. I'm with you all the way! Hurray for gallons!

  5. Anonymous5:09 pm BST

    I so agree with you! I was taught in grams etc at school, but always used pounds and ounces to bake with. My eight year old son is also into pounds and ounces and inches and feet etc etc. It's so much easier to understand.

  6. Yay for grumpies everywhere. Set scales to imperial cap'n

  7. So agree ... especially if you want to halve a recipe, metric is so fiddly!

  8. Although I am sure the both would taste the same xx (but I too agree)

  9. Anonymous6:08 pm BST

    Hi Sue,
    My name is Carole & i found your blog linked from Attic24, & i have read it many times. It`s a brilliant blog & i`ve writtendown many of your recipes.I live in Rossendale, Lancashire. So i intend to send you comments cos i think your blog is fab.
    Your shortbread biscuits look so yummy,I shall be adding the recipe to my folder.
    Good luck with the Q*****s, or rather the unmentionables!!!
    Love Carole from Rossendale xx

  10. Anonymous6:50 pm BST

    Im an imperial girl too! Sometimes I forget what Im working in pounds or kilograms. I visited Charlecote Farm shop today and thought of you as they were selling a very small quantity of quinces - locally grown. I bought some wonderful pumpkins, squashes and gourds although some are not edible but purely for Halloween fun! Mollyx

  11. Anonymous7:09 pm BST

    When I ran a delicatessen the idiots up at "Eurocentral" were just bringing the metric system in to the UK and it was a NIGHTMARE trying to educate both my staff AND customers in the use of grams and kilograms. No-one had a flippin clue! I personally hate the use of metrics in cooking even though I am pretty conversant with it - pounds and ounces forever! (Saying this though I wouldn't have a clue with pounds, shillings, etc as I am a child of the decimal system - perhaps I am opening another can o' worms here?)

  12. Oh dear, I'm a metric girl I'm afraid but that's probably because I did a cookery course in the late nineties and that was very definitely using metric. It took me ages to get used to it then, although I still think in pounds when roasting a joint.

    I saw a basketful of quinces at my local farm shop today and thought of you! x

  13. Imperial everytime! ~ but then it's probably got a lot to do with age!! :O) x

  14. Pounds and Oz for me too!!

  15. We're metric in Australia, although my mum still uses imperial so I have fun converting the amounts in her recipes.
    I have a lovely pair of digital scales with both measurements so it's very made easy for me. By the way the scales were a gift from my very thoughtful hubbie.
    Enjoy your shortbread, if you get a to eat a piece that is. :-)
    Anne xx

  16. I have no idea whaich is which and if I can't wing it, I can't bake it! Oh no thats a lie... everything has to be in cups or half cups.... its all too confusing for my simple baking brain!
    you and your quinces! I even dreamed about you and quinces last night ha ha ha
    love it though! looking forward to seeing what you make with them next!

  17. I'm a bit like you. I grew up with Imperial but Australia changed to metric in 1966. It was a long time ago but it is still hard for me to think metric and I am constantly converting from one to the other. Usually I cook in metric but often use cup measures too. But if a police description tells me the bank robber's height in metric I'm lost unless there is a conversion to feet and inches !!!

  18. I grew up in the 70's USA and I remember them teaching metric and that we would soon be converted. Haha, it's 2010 and they haven't converted us yet.

    I need to convert your recipes to cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. From my nursing days I can convert ml to oz and tsp the grams are altogether different.

    I've not heard of weighing out measurements until I roamed around blogland.

    Thanks for the shortbread recipe, I've not heard of it with corn flour before. I'll have to try that.

  19. I have been trying to teach myself to use metric, but I'm afraid I'm still an imperial girl too. I think we need to hang onto our imperial weights and measures. Your shortbread looks delicious, hope you get to eat some! Best wishes Pj x

  20. I meander between metric and imperial, have no idea how tall I am in metric, but in feet and inches not a problem. I use scales for food cooking so that doesn't worry me too much. I wish we could all be the same in that area, would make converting patterns/receipes from all over the world so much easier.
    Hugs Sandi xx

  21. Your shortbread looks fab! Will definitely make some for the children (of all ages!). Hopefully it'll last a bit longer than the last batch I made, which lasted exactly two days - I'm on a diet so it definitely wasn't me who ate them!

    Oh yes, I'm definitely an imperial girl - can't be doing with metric. I remember shopping with my mum quite a few years back and having to convert the pack weights back into imperial. My nan always used to go back to pounds/shillings/pence when working out whether something was good value for money.

    When my babies were born I remember looking blankly at the midwife when she reeled off their weights....made much more sense when converted to lbs and ozs.

  22. Anonymous10:31 pm BST

    I love shortbread, and I am def an imperial girls too x

  23. Unsurpisingly Imperial. Thanks for the info about shortbread, I'd never clocked the simple formula and I'll now remember it in the same breath as the 4 4 4 2 sponge.

  24. Being French metric is my life! But I understand that in cases like that, common sense should prevail! They look very tasty as well!

  25. I'm with you on this one. Given the choice I always use the Imperial measurements. So much easier to remember the formula 4,4,4 & 2 for fairy cakes than the metric equivalents!

  26. Anonymous9:03 pm GMT

    I'm SO glad the metrics never took off here in the states. it's like a foriegn language to me.

  27. Can I disagree? I can't get my head round imperial units, twelve of this, sixteen of that. Maybe it is because I lived abroad, or because I studied sciences, in the eighties and we used metric units of course. If I get stuck I round ingredients up. So why not 100/ 200/ 300 g of your shortbread ingredients? When my kids were small I decided to get rid of my imperial scales and go completely metric. My ten times tables are so much better than my fourteens and sixteens!!


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