“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing – not career or housework, or one’s fatigue – and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”
~ Julia Child, My Life in France
One of the things I treasure most about where I live is that wonderful sense of community. I like to keep the biscuit barrel and the cake tin full, so that when friends stop by there is always something tasty to go with a cup of tea, or to take when we go visiting.
Last weekend we dropped in at Shannon and Johnno’s farm – across the river that acts as our boundary – for a cuppa and a chat, and to use their log splitter to chop a load of hardwood. So much easier than doing it all with an axe – they don’t call it hardwood for nothing! I took a tin of biscuits round to say thank you. We often share baking and produce, and help each other out. That’s the joy of good neighbours. (You can read more about our neighbours here with this post I wrote about Shannon’s dad, Gordon.)
This weekend one of Shannon’s cows crossed the river and got into our paddock. When our neighbours came to help us chase her back home again Johnno cheekliy asked if he could get a refill of the biscuit tin I’d taken them. So we met back down at the river later for an exchange. Ben crossed the shallow part of the river in his sturdy gumboots, took my empty tin back, and swapped it for one full of delicious lemon shortbreads.
These biscuits are a delectable buttery treat with a thin tangy glaze. Utterly munch-able. Which is another reason why I gave some of them away. Otherwise I might have succumbed to eating the entire batch myself. Thank goodness for neighbours who volunteer to eat my cooking.
Why don’t you whip some up so you can see what I mean? The melt ‘n mix recipe is quick to prepare and simple enough for the most unskilled cook.
250 grams butter (1 cup), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch for my USA friends!), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 and 1/3 cups plain flour.
This works fabulously well with gluten-free flour. If you’re vegan or dairy-free use your favourite butter alternative.
Hint: use level cups of flours and sugars rather than generous ones.
1 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
Melt butter over low heat. Cool slightly. Sift icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl. Add sugar and lemon zest, then pour over the melted butter. Beat until thick and creamy. You could use a spoon or hand beaters but I use my trusty electric beaters. The thickened mix will be the consistency of thick custard. Be patient, It takes a minute or two for the magic to work.
Then add in the sifted flour and lemon juice. Mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly and moist. Tip into a lined baking tray and press down firmly, smoothing with your hands or the back of a spoon.
If you want to serve this plain, mark into squares with a sharp knife and prick squares with a fork. You can also sprinkle a little extra sugar over if you like, for presentation.
If you are glazing your shortbread leave top smooth. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Mix the icing sugar, butter and lemon juice together until well combined. Spread over the shortbread in the tin while it is still warm. This will help to spread and set the glaze. Cut into squares or bars when glaze is set. Cool completely if you can wait that long. Share with friends.