To be honest, I have had a succession of baking disasters in the kitchen this week. I suppose I am learning that this blog is a complete journey and often I don’t know which direction it is going to take me in.
I started off using some peaches, which I had originally intented to use for a peach cake, to make ice cream. I have made ice cream before, without an ice cream machine, quite successfully. However, I purchased the ice cream attachment/bowl to my KitchenAid and have been eager to try it out. I have been waiting for the weather to warm up but that looks unlikely so I thought I would go ahead anyway. Things didn’t work out. The ‘chilled’ peach batter was too cold, so the creaming mechanism on the mixer froze up giving a ‘half frozen, unable to prize off’ ice mixture (as opposed to ‘cream’).
Next up, my punnet of fresh cherries. I planned to use these to make a homemade cherryade – something to put in my ‘Drinks’ section. Fortunately some friends flagged up that ‘Waitrose Weekend’ had a similar recipe this week so I felt I couldn’t try that one out. Not to be defeated by the ice cream maker, I thought I would use the cherries for an indulgent ice cream. Slightly more success this time but something still wasn’t right. It was not the light, creamy ice cream that I wanted to share with you. The particles of cream had frozen ahead of everything else. Maybe I had too much cream in it? I consider myself a reasonably intelligent woman, how hard can it be?
Anyway, after all this ice cream making activity and subsequent failure, I had a large surplus of egg whites. So, not to let them go to waste, I used them in an Angel Cake. Oh the potential for this light, fatless sponge was enormous. I was excited by the puffed up, golden cake that I took from the oven, only for the whole thing to collapse (probably as I added fruit and it was too ‘heavy’).
So a number of culinary failures this week. However, I am determined to get them right over the summer months and share them with you in due course.
Enter the Lavender Shortbread Biscuits.
I needed to come up with something for you that was worth the wait and I think these aromatic beauties fulfil that.
I had planned on baking these sometime ago. Indeed, some lavender sugar has been infusing for a number of weeks now in my kitchen. See my ‘Flavoured Sugars’ post for details on how to do this.
With this shortbread, I wanted to achieve a delicate biscuit that snaps when broken and melts in the mouth, so it does involve some rolling and cutting. This thinness enhances the light, fragrant flavour. I have used lavender infused sugar but you can use regular caster sugar and add culinary lavender which is readily available at local farm shops, and even the high street. You will take pleasure in making them. Once baked, on opening the oven door, the fragrance from these biscuits will engulf your kitchen in the most wonderful, healing lavender aroma.
These biscuits are special. Have them with a cup of tea, or package them up in a jar, or tin, and give as a gift. Whatever way you choose, enjoy…
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 80g lavender infused caster sugar (or 80g caster sugar, plus 1.5 teaspoons culinary lavender)
- 375g plain flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
- Sugar for sprinkling, prior to baking
- Cream together the butter, vanilla extract, salt and sugar in the bowl of a free standing mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour in small amounts and continue to beat until all incorporated.
- If using the separate culinary lavender, add now and mix until evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
- Tip the mixture onto a layer of food wrap. Mould into a ball shape, flatten and wrap in the food wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This allows lavender in infuse further and the dough to harden for rolling.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4.
- Line two baking trays with parchment.
- Take the chilled dough and unwrap. Place another layer of food wrap and place over the top. Dust the work surface with some flour around the edges of the food wrap (in case in over runs). Roll the dough between the layers of food wrap until it is about 5mm thick. Use a 2.5 inch cutter to cut the biscuits and place on the prepared baking trays. Repeat until all the dough has been used. Sprinkle shortbread with sugar prior to baking.
- Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are a pale golden colour.
- Remove from the oven and allow to harden on the baking tray initially and then transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
- Store in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from Cheryl and Griffith Day’s ‘The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook’ and The Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Biscuits and Slices’