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May 12, 2012 / mintcustard

Saffron shortbread

Tea Time Treats

This month’s Tea time treats has a floral theme. Thank you once again to Karen for hosting it on her wonderful blog Lavender and lovage. I love the idea of taking  floral flavours and bringing them to the fore in food. I must have been one of the few children who actually liked Parma violets! For those who know me, you won’t be surprised that a chintzy-decorated floral cake isn’t my thing. My skill level is low as is my patience. I have the same capacity for destruction as a toddler after a tube of blue Smarties so I had to find a recipe that was simple but let the floral flavours shine out.

My first thoughts were to recreate a delicious  shortbread I first tasted whilst sitting in the most magnificent Mayfield lavender fields just a couple of miles away from our house. The owners of the fields allow you to wander freely through the fragrant flowering lavender. After a hard day at work it has to be one of the most calming places in England, and the sell teas and lavender shortbread. The edge of the Downs has always been home to lavender growing. The thin layer of soil we have over the deep, deep chalk sustains very little else! Last year I remembered to make some lavender sugar for just this purpose. Somehow, in this rain it didn’t feel right. Lavender is at it’s magnificent best in late June onwards. I’ll recreate my taste of Summer then.

I do love the idea of a more floral shortbread so I have decided to carry on with the flower theme using saffron (crocus stamens). I was tempted to additionally flavour the biscuits with cardamom (a seed pod) or vanilla (an orchid seed pod) but finally decided that the colour and flavour of the world’s most expensive spice could stand alone. I am well aware that too much saffron can make a cake or biscuit taste as if it has been forged by a blacksmith, so pungent is it’s metallic overtones, so less is more in these biscuits. I was going for a gentle, subtle saffron tingle. Almost the ghost of a flavour rather than a grab you by the throat poltergeist assault on your taste buds.

Saffron shortbread. (adapted from Ina Garten’s shortbread hearts recipe)

180g unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup of caster sugar

2 tsp warm milk

a good pinch of saffron

1 3/4 cups of plain flour

good pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C

Crumble the saffron roughly into a teacup. You don’t want dust but equally you don’t want long strands of saffron.  Pour over the warm milk and allow to steep. In the bowl , cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the saffron and milk mixture and beat again until combined.  Sift in  the flour and salt  to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed with a hand mixer or work with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in cling film or pop into a ziploc bag and chill for 30 minutes. If you don’t have either squeeze the dough between two plates and chill that way.

Roll the dough1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch shaped cutter. Place the shapes on an ungreased  baking tray and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Roll the biscuits in more caster sugar. Add a little golden glitter to the sugar if you want the biscuits to sparkle with gold too!

Note: The edges of the shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the shortbreads before baking them.

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3 Comments

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  1. Karen Burns Booth / May 12 2012 5:40 pm

    I LOVE your clever idea of using Saffron, as part of the crocus, for your Tea Time Treats entry….and the shortbreads are JUST lovely Becky! Thanks so much for taking part for May and the Floral challenge…….LIKE your way of thinking “outside the box”! Karen

Trackbacks

  1. Tea Time Treats – Say it with Flowers for May – BIG FAT FLORAL BAKING ROUND UP! Part One « Lavender and Lovage
  2. Lavender and lemon drizzle cake. « mintcustard

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