If I’m going to the trouble of making something from scratch then, as you may have gathered by now, I like to use the best ingredients I can reasonably lay my hands on. I’ve been fairly happily using Harmonie butter in my baking for some time now, but the distance that little yellow block of joy has to travel to end up taking pride of place in my fruitcake bothers me. I want to buy local. I do occasionally see dairy stalls at markets when I manage to escape my family for half an hour, but if you think I’m the type that can wander up and ask for a sample then you are very very wide of the mark. So I’ve been taking recommendations. And what I keep hearing is Pepe Saya.
The first thing is locating it. Go to the factory in Tempe, advises my hairdresser. Ah, but the school holidays have started and I’m trying to minimise time in the car with my darling children, especially the Horror who still lacks an inside voice. The website is very spartan and I’m tempted to send them a list of improvements, for example a list of vendors of their product. Or opening hours for their shopfront. Or if they have a shopfront. As it turns out, Harris Farm carries it and I’ve been walking past it for ages because, for reasons best known to themselves, they package it like it’s a cheese. Round, in a shiny foil like substance, and they also have a picture on it of someone looking down their nose which I also find to be a questionable marketing technique.
OK, I’ve got some, and I’ve prevented the Muffet from getting a surprise when she wanted a wedge of it on a cracker. I want a recipe that showcases the butter, and what can be simpler than shortbread? I don’t need the internet for this one, I have plenty of shortbread recipes in my less loony cookbooks and I’m going for the classic Women’s Weekly one. Although I am tempted by the one in the Good Cookie that involves infusing the butter with tea leaves. Hmm. I’ll bet that’d also work with lavender. Another time.
Unwrap the butter and load 185 grams of it into a bowl. I don’t usually use cultured butter, basically because it’s not what I’m used to. It’s a much more complex flavour, with slightly yoghurty overtones that I’m a bit concerned about for my recipe. Sift in two cups of plain flour, a quarter of a cup of icing sugar and a tablespoon of ground rice. I ground the rice in my extremely handy coffee grinder that has been getting a hell of a workout since I killed my stick mixer. I’m also adding a half a teaspoon of vanilla for a bit of fragrance. Knead it all together, then dump it onto a floured work bench. I don’t get it to form a smooth ball, but I roll it out anyway. This is one that looks lovely with fancy cutter shapes because it doesn’t spread out. I’m almost tempted to use my set of heart shapes, but in the end I use a four leaf clover shape. I want the boys to eat them too. You can place them very close on your baking sheet because of the lack of spreading out.
I baked mine at 180 degrees for about twenty minutes, and you can see from the photo that this was too high a temperature. I have a fan forced oven, so next time I’ll go with 160 degrees and will keep an eye on them. You don’t really want them to brown. My fears about the tang were completely unfounded, I’ve got a subtle flavoured, beautifully textured biscuit that will reward contemplation over a cup of tea. Pity I don’t drink tea. Also a pity that the dripping wet little boys that rushed past and inhaled a few didn’t bother contemplating the subtle flavours. They did say “YUMM!!”.
Lucky that worked out so well, because I bought quite a lot of the butter. Christmas baking coming up, after all.