Where I live (in Canada) we call this shortbread nowadays.
—Take a pound of Zanta currants; and, after they are well picked and washed, dry them on a large dish before the fire, or on the top of a stove. Instead of currants, you may use sultana or seedless raisins cut in half. When well dried, dredge the fruit profusely with flour to prevent its clodding while baking.
Have ready a teaspoonful of mixed spice, powdered mace, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sift two quarts of flour, and spread it to dry at the fire.
Cut up a pound of the best fresh butter; put it into a clean sauce-pan, and melt it over the fire; shaking it round and taking care that it does not burn.
Put the flour into a large pan, and mix with it a pound of powdered white sugar. Pour the melted butter warm into the midst of the flour and sugar; and with a large spoon or a broad knife mix the whole thoroughly into a soft dough or paste, without using a drop of water. Next sprinkle in the fruit, a handful at a time, (stirring hard between each handful) and finish with a heaped tea-spoonful of spice, mixed in a large glass of brandy.
Strew some flour on your paste-board; lay the lump of dough upon it, flour your hands, and knead it a while on all sides. Then cut it in half, and roll out each sheet about an inch thick. With a jagging-iron cut it into large squares, ovals, triangles, or any form you please, and prick the surface handsomely, with a fork. Butter some square pans, put in the cakes, and bake them brown.
For currants and raisins, you may substitute citron cut into slips and floured. This cake will be found very fine if the receipt is exactly followed. In cold weather it keeps well; and packed in a tin or wooden box, may be sent many hundred miles, for Thanksgiving-day, Christmas, or New Year’s.
Source: New Receipts for cooking by T.B. Peterson, 1854