Lavender, lemon zest and vanilla shortbread

Last week I went to Columbia Road flower market and bought this lavender from one of the stalls, which had it all stacked up in an electric blue mound. This shortbread is quite unique tasting as it’s very floral and delicate. Fresh lavender has a very strong scent, so don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe states, or else you run the risk of producing something that tastes more like soap than a biscuit.

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Ingredients

100g butter, room temp
50g icing sugar
1 tsp fresh lavender
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
100g plain flour
50g corn flour

Method

  1.  Cream together the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and lavender and mix again.
  2. Finally, add the two types of flour, the salt and mix again.
  3. Once combined, bring the dough together into a ball and place on a dusted board to shape into a cylinder.
  4. I find my shortbread a bit crumbly at this point, so it is often easier to form a rough cylinder, place the dough on a strip of clingfilm, and then shape it further as you tightly wrap the dough in the clingfilm.
  5. At this point you want to preheat the over to 160C/150C fan, and place the dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes, till it firms up.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice it into rounds of about half-centimetre thickness. Place the shortbread rounds on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until a light golden colour forms at the edges (you can lift one up to check it’s base is not doughy).
  7. Transfer to a wire rack, to allow them to cool and crisp-up.

Makes about 15, 4cm diameter shortbreads

Almond biscuits

These biscuits are an adaptation of my favourite sweet shortcrust pastry recipe. They are brilliant for dessert when cut into rectangles and served with blackberry jam, folded into crème fraîche, as a dip.If you don’t have any vanilla icing sugar, I recommend adding half a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the first step.
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Ingredients
175g butter
65g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
225g plain flour
125g slivered almonds
dusting of vanilla icing sugar


Method
  1. Put the butter, sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and blend together quickly.
  2. Add the flour and blend again.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour. At this point pre-heat the oven to 356F/180C/FAN 150C.
  4. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Once flat, roughly create a single layer of slivered almonds on the surface and continue to roll till the dough is about the thickness of a £1 coin (3-4mm).
  5. Cut out shapes using a cutter and place on a metal tray lined with baking parchment.
  6. Place in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, but check on them after 10 minutes. They should end up being a light golden colour.
  7. Carefully place the biscuits on a cooling rack.
  8. Once cooled, dust the biscuits with vanilla icing sugar.
makes about 30 little discs