Lavender Lemon Shortbread
by eat in my kitchen
If I had to choose my favourite late summer shortbread for tea time in August I’d have to say it would be lavender lemon. My choice is deeply inspired by the fragrant fields of the Provence covered in mesmerizing purple flowers and the ripe yellow lemons in my Maltese mother’s garden. Lavender and citrus fruit both grow lusciously under the Mediterranean’s scorching sun, they soak it up and develop aromas of intense depth. I can’t think of a more vibrant combination – Malta and the South of France combined in a Scottish treat.
Recently I read about petticoat tails, shortbread in the shape of a large circle cut into segments, the edge decorated in waves by pinching it with fingers or a knife. The name refers to the petticoats popular in the 16th century, the cut of the fabric used to make the skirts had the same shape as the shortbread. I also found out that the pinched edges symbolize the sun. Considering that today’s recipe is my late summer variation on this Scottish classic, I decided to go for this shape. I only got a bit worried about the neatly shaped edge, I’ve never done this before nor seen anyone doing it, so I cheated a little. I used my little French tart pan and ended up with rather small, round rays.
The past few days have been quite excessive on the culinary side. Although we had just waved goodbye to each other when we left Malta, my Maltese sister Emma is here in Berlin to visit us for a few days, a great chance to use her as a guinea pig for some of my cookbooks recipes (she approved!) – and to have an excuse to bake and eat more cake than we should. It’s time to celebrate our reunion after all. Our sweet treats of shortbread for tea and peach cake for dinner ended in a proper cake feast as we visited Laura from Tausensuend at Berlin’s Bite Club. Salted Caramel Ricotta, spicy chili chocolate and the most amazing sticky sourdough cinnamon snails – life is good when you forget about restrictions!
Lavender Lemon Shortbread
Mind that you prepare the lavender sugar a few days (or even weeks) in advance, you use 10 parts sugar and 1 part organic lavender flowers (L. augustifolia, Hidcote).
Makes a 23cm / 9″ shortbread
plain flour 260g / 2 cups
lavender sugar, sieved, with about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon flowers, 80g / 3oz, plus more to sprinkle
zest of 1 large lemon (about 3-4 teaspoons)
a pinch of salt
butter (cold) 160g / 5 1/2oz
Set the oven to 170°C / 340°F (fan-assisted).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar (with a few flowers), zest and salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Transfer the crumbly mixture into a 23cm / 9″ loose bottom tart pan or directly onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Push the dough down evenly into the pan or give it a round shape of the same size and pinch the edge with your thumb. Score the surface with a knife to divide it into 6 segments, cut about half way though the dough. Sprinkle with a little lavender sugar but no flowers, they would burn in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden. Take the shortbread out of the oven, sprinkle with lavender flowers (and fresh lemon zest if you like) and let it cool for about 15 minutes before you take it out of the pan.