The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread for tea.

Lavender-lemon Shortbread by E. Urbach (right), and purchased Speculaas cookies (left).
Today's the day for the Victorian Hairwork Tea party, and it's a beautiful sunny day. It's unusual for it to be sunny and 60 degrees in January, even in this part of California, but that's what it's been all week.

We have a good group of people who will be gathering at my friend's house this afternoon, and we'll watch the first episode of the vintage TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" while we have our tea, and then get started on the hair art. My friend said that she was going to use some of her husband's hair for her project, and I meant to look through my boxes and get out the envelope containing my grandfather's hair, to use today, but I ran out of time. In giving a tour at the museum where I work ( I spoke with a 4th grade or 5th grade girl who saw the "family tree" hair art arrangement that we have on display, and said that her mom sometimes makes ornaments out of hair! I am going to see if I can get in contact with this lady and ask her to lead a hair art workshop in the future, because I am happy to know that someone in this area has that skill. I will definitely be using my grandfather's hair to make a little something once I learn how to make hair art better! Pictures will be posted.

I spent a good part of yesterday evening baking for the tea today (I still need to make a few sandwiches and the trifle), and one of the recipes that I re-discovered and used, was this one for Lavender-Lemon Shortbread. This is very fragrant and yummy.

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms, chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used Meyer lemons from our tree)
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped lavender and grated lemon zest. Using a hand-held electric mixer [or by hand], beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Form the dough into a 4-inch log and chill for at least 45 minutes longer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the shortbread dough into ¼ inch thick rounds and place the rounds on un-greased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 minutes. Bake the shortbread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the baked shortbread to a wire rack and cool completely. Makes about 1½ dozen cookies. *author’s note: the cookie dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

-- from “Morning Glory”, by Alison Attenborough in Food & Wine magazine, June 2002.

MY NOTE: I put in more lavender, by accident; I had measured one tablespoon of culinary lavender, chopped it and mixed it in, before I looked closer at the recipe and realized that it called for one teaspoon of lavender. I like lavender, and I didn't think it was too much. I mixed this by hand; after mixing in the flour and salt I immediately formed the dough into a log, wrapped it in waxed paper, and refrigerated it overnight. The log was about 2 inches thick and 6 inches long. In the morning I unwrapped the dough, sliced it into 1/4 inch rounds, and baked it immediately. This saves cooling/freezing time. Also, I baked the cookies for a much shorter time, 15 to 20 minutes. I had baked the cookies for 20 minutes when I made them before, and they were almost burnt black, so check the cookies at 15 or 16 minutes, and take them out just when they start to brown on the edges. You can put a thin icing and culinary lavender on top of the cookies or leave them plain.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)