Nothing beats homemade shortbread. This is my very favourite recipe -- a lovely rich buttery shortbread with a delightful crunch. It's especially decadent when topped with this beautiful rich lemon frosting made with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It's just divine!Read More
Although our winter has been pretty mild, there's a biting wind and we tend to get torrential rain one minute (usually just before the school run is about to start!) and glorious sunshine the next. I'm definitely in need of a little bit of comfort and so it'a been a biscuit sort of week in our house.
I went to wholesale earlier in the week and came back with a big box of beautiful lemons. They are the sign that spring is on its way and are brightening up my kitchen daily. I have dinner plans for the weekend with them, but I had a biscuit plan today.
My quest for dairy free alternatives is ever on my mind and I wanted to have a go at dairy free shortbread -- and why not make it gluten free too? I'm always a huge fan of lemon so my shortbread biscuits were to be lemon and I decided to pair them with earl grey tea. Now I'm not an earl grey tea drinker but I thought it would be interesting to try.
The dairy free alternative I used was Dairy Free Pure Sunflower which was an experiment as I found it at the supermarket and hadn't used it before. The flour was Gluten Free Plain Flour and I also added in some Corn Flour too. The dough is easy to make. The butter, vanilla essence, earl grey, lemon zest and sugar are creamed together in a bowl for around 5 minutes. Then the flour and cornflour are stirred in and mixed gently to form a dough. This is a sticky dough. I popped it in the freezer overnight and it came out of freezer soft the next day so don't worry if yours has this consistency.
The surface should be well-floured and a little more flour sprinkled on top of your dough before rolling it. I found it easier to pat down the dough with my hand until it was the thickness I was looking for (0.5cm) and then a quick roll with rolling pin just to smooth the surface. Once you have used your cutter to great effect (I used a 6cm cutter), gently move each cookie to a lined baking tray. They don't spread much during baking so you don't need to leave too much space between each biscuit.
Then bake them at 170 degrees (fan) for 15 minutes. They don't change much in colour or go golden brown like other biscuits might. You should remove them from the oven and gently move each one on to a cooling tray with a spatula and allow to cool.
Using tea in these biscuits might not be to your taste. You don't have to put it in. I loved the speckled texture but it does add a floral note to the final biscuit. They would work beautifully with just lemon -- maybe with the zest of two lemons since it's your only flavour.
I love these little shortbread biscuits. They are light, have a beautiful snap and are perfect with a cup of tea. I have eaten almost the entire batch on my own!
Lemon & Earl Grey Shortbread (Vegan and Gluten Free)
adapted from Wallflower Girl's Vegan Chamomile & Lemon Shortbread
- 200G DAIRY FREE PURE SUNFLOWER (or an alternative dairy-free butter)
- 1 TSP VANILLA PASTE OR EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP EARL GREY (loose tea)
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- 100G CASTER SUGAR
- 300G GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR
- 1 TBSP CORN FLOUR
- Make the dough the day before you want to bake your biscuits
- Place your butter, vanilla, earl grey, lemon and sugar in a bowl and cream together -- around 5 minutes
- Stir in the gluten free flour and corn flour and gently mix until a dough is formed -- it will be a sticky dough
- Wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer overnight
- When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan) and line a baking tray with parchment
- Flour your surface well and place the dough on top, sprinkling the top of the dough with more flour
- Using your hands, pat the dough until it's around 0.5cm thick
- Flour your rolling pin and gently roll the surface just to make it smooth
- Using a cutter, cut out your shapes and gently move them to the baking tray
- Bake for 15 minutes
- Remove from the oven and gently transfer your biscuits from the baking tray to a cooling rack
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy :)
I discovered last week that I have a slight addiction to lavender shortbread. A slight addiction being that I can demolish most of a packet in around 10 minutes. You really don't want to know the calory count of each biscuit. I thought I was pretty safe that this weird craving would be reserved for me - I mean my fussy boys would never eat these biscuits once they knew they had FLOWERS in them - and believe me, I was quick to emphasise that the purple speckles were FLOWERS. Wrong! They loved them as much as me *sighs with disappointment*.
I adore shortbread still warm from the oven. Freshly baked shortbread is just one of my absolute favourites. Whenever we go to anywhere with lovely little cafes (like National Trust venues) that sell fresh cakes and biscuits, I immediately make a beeline for the domed glass lidded cake stands in the middle and check out their shortbread offering, tailoring my meal to this little treat at the end. Although I love classic shortbread, the addition of lavender and lemon just adds a certain lift to the biscuit - it's just a hint of flavour - and the few people that have tried some of these home-baked biscuits said they were really moreish.
I posted a while back after my vain attempts to find dried lavender in shops that I could bake with. I struggled and so I decided that I'd grow my own lavender after this and my parents grow it in abundance in their garden. The lavender for these biscuits came from their crop and it is really lovely to be cooking with something you've grown yourself, even if it's only a small part of the overall bake.
This is a simple classic shortbread recipe. I like using rice flour in my shortbread as it gives an added crunch to the texture so this recipe uses a blend of plain flour and rice flour. The main thing to remember is not to overwork the dough. I also find that chilling the dough for 30 minutes or so (you don't want to leave it in the fridge for too long as it turns too hard and then you have to soften it again before using) really helps it keep shape before you roll it and use your cutters. I decided to use heart cutters as the biscuits I became so addicted to were heart-shaped but they would be great as any shape.
If you love shortbread as much as me, there's really nothing better than eating freshly baked. The dough can also be frozen (use your cutters to cut them into shapes and then freeze them at this point between layers of baking parchment) and defrost at room temperature for an hour. Super useful for any unexpected guests! You can also take this further and decorate them with royal icing although I like the simplicity of my biscuits so you can see the purple and yellow flecks throughout the biscuits. Or even change the flavour combinations like vanilla or orange.
Very happy I made enough to stash some in the freezer. They might just stay there until the summer holidays are over and school starts again. Party for one at my house!
Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Makes around 30 biscuits
- 250G SOFTENED BUTTER
- 100G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 250G PLAIN FLOUR
- 125G RICE FLOUR
- 2 TSP LAVENDER FLOWERS
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl
- Add the lavender and lemon and mix until combined (I added mine after the flour but it would have been better the combine them before this addition)
- Sift the flour and cornfour into a separate bowl
- Add the flours in 3 additions, mixing the dough briefly each time
- Gently knead the dough until it's smooth but be careful not to over-work it
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until it's around ½cm thick
- Stamp out your shapes with your chosen cutters - I used hearts but circle or fluted edged cutters would work well or anything you really fancy
- Place the biscuits on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving a little space between each biscuit as they will swell slightly
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack