Spring: Lemon Lavender Shortbread.

It’s early June and the Lavender in the garden is full of beautiful tender, silvery-grey new growth.

This is an unusual recipe which celebrates traditional British Summer – try this scented shortbread with tea, or as a dessert with fruit compote and rich vanilla ice cream.

If you feel that your arms need some exercise, this is a good recipe to make – it’s quite hard work beating the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon – knowing that you’ve worked for these biscuits will make them even more enjoyable (alternatively use a food processor!)

150g plain flour

100g salted butter, softened and cut into pieces

50g caster sugar

Zest of half a washed lemon

Few tender new lavender leaves, cut up quite small

Heat the oven to 180c.

Prepare a baking tin by lining it with non stick baking parchment.

Place softened butter into a bowl and gradually beat in flour and sugar, making sure that the flour doesn’t fly away in dusty drifts as you go.  Add lemon zest and lavender towards the end so they are well incorporated but not too chopped up.  (If you are in a hurry, or don’t need an arm workout, combine in a food processor).

Quickly and gently work mixture together to form a ball.

Pat and roll out lightly, on a floured surface.

Either use a round cutter or cut squares / rectangles and transfer to baking sheet.

Prick on the top with a fork if you like, to decorate.  You can also sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until cooked.  The shortbread should remain very pale.

Cool on the tin for a little while then transfer to a wire rack to cool properly.

Store in an airtight container.

Tip:  You can try different flavours of shortbread – vanilla, orange zest, Rosemary and walnut… be adventurous, but keep the flavours subtle.

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Spring Baked Rhubarb

Spring: Baked Rhubarb.

To cook rhubarb without it going squidgy (?), wash and trim into short lengths, then put into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with sugar – it is very tart without – use a gererous cup of sugar for each 6 cups of chopped rhubarb.

Cover tightly with foil and bake in a hot oven until tender.

Try mixing in some rosewater, orange segments or zest, ginger… or once cold, stir in some small sweet strawberries and blueberries – yum!

I often have other berries such as red gooseberries, Jostaberries or blackberries ripe at the same time – toss these in after baking, and let them steam under the foil seal – they will add beautifully flavour and appearance, but maintain their shape.

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