Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Yet More Cookies - Summer on a Plate

As we prepare for the dreaded 'packing-up-of-all-we-own' for the great trans-Atlantic move, we have, in a very organised fashion, made a list of the food that we have left in the house and are planning our meals around it. It's all a bit 'Ready, Steady, Cook!' - which allows me to cheekily insert this picture, which always gives me a giggle.

Anyway, this means that I am no longer able to justify buying any more ingredients, not even for baking. However, I do still have some diminishing stocks of flour, butter and sugar, and I was delighted to find the perfect use for them this week, in the form of a simple shortbread cookie... with a twist. On a visit to my friend Sarah's house a few days ago I was admiring her garden when I remembered that I have long been keen to use lavender in my baking, inspired both by Paola and Welshie. I had also found a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's excellent 'River Cottage Year', which had caught my eye in the past. Having gathered a small handful of lavender flowers, I wanted to try the very simplest of recipes with the lavender, so eschewed the chocolate version in favour of the plain, using a combination of Hugh's and Welshie's recipes. I liked the small quantity produced by Welshie's recipe (being a little unsure about how they would turn out) but I used the plain flour plus cornflour suggested by Hugh. I'd like to pretend that was a purely culinary decision, but as usual at the moment, it was all down to what was in the cupboard...

It pleased me greatly to be able to use my lavender-coloured mixing bowl to stir all the ingredients together. It looked beautiful. Now in full domestic-goddess mode, I fell upon my ever-growing but all-too-rarely-used collection of cookie cutters. What better shape to use than a teapot? The dough was fairly friable, but I managed to cut out the cookies, trying to make some thicker and some thinner, to see which I preferred. I dredged them with caster sugar before baking them in order to get that just-crispy crust on the top.

Despite chilling the dough well, some of the cookies 'bubbled' very slightly - not quite the smooth look I was after - but all were attractively flecked with lavender flowers. The thinner cookies were predictably a little crisper, but the thicker ones were far from problematic. I was very pleasantly surprised with the taste - not a hint of the 'soapiness' I was dreading, but a delicate floral flavour that is the perfect compliment to a cup of afternoon tea. Bliss!