What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: Shortbread

Lime Shortbread

The Moose must have been bitten by a Boy Scout because last week, on his way to tennis, he helped an elderly man load some boxes into his car. His reward was some tiny limes from the tree in the man’s front yard and he was very excited to show me the fruits of his virtue. And you know that I always love unconventionally acquired food.

It had to be something with lime zest. Fresh limes straight from the tree, no wax and looked like no juice also. I thought about cola, but the Moose isn’t that keen on it. I am though, so was tempted to go ahead anyway, but while doing some bedtime reading of Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie, a constant source of inspiration, I came across a recipe for lime shortbread. Winner.

I would strongly recommend hauling out the wallet and getting some Pepe Saya butter for this one. I’ve done a fair bit of testing now and if you’re rationing yourself then you should save this butter for pastry and shortbread. For those perusing from a different country, Pepe Saya is a cultured butter made from the milk of contented cows and is a very fine thing indeed.

OK, recipe. Place in a bowl two cups of flour, three quarters of a cup of icing sugar, a quarter of a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon of fresh lime zest and mix them all up. Scatter over the top one hundred and seventy grams of cold butter chopped into chunks (I actually did the conversion this time). Cut it into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are quite small. The KitchenAid did a perfectly adequate job of this. Stop the KitchenAid and pour in two tablespoons of lime juice and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. I had to get the lime juice from conventionally acquired limes, those tiny ones were solid with green seeds inside. Mix very slowly until the dough just starts coming together. Squish it about a bit with your hands to make it smooth, then divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Stick it in the fridge until it’s good and solid again. You may want to go and process some concert subscriptions and work out how to convert a sheet into a toga for when your youngest son goes to the Literature Festival as Zeus. No, I didn’t think Zeus was a literary figure either, but he got it past the librarian.

Take the plastic wrap off and slice the logs into biscuits about four millilitres thick. They don’t spread very much, so you can place them quite close together on your lined baking sheet. Bake them at 160 degrees fan forced (180 degrees not) until they’re just starting to go golden around the edges, it will take about fifteen minutes and keep an eye on them. Don’t let them brown.

Those aren’t the limes, they’re just for illustrative purposes. I warned the kids that the green flecks in the biscuits weren’t mould, they were lime zest. That could be an issue with their visual appeal, but goodness they taste good. Not as soft as shortbread often is, almost crunchy and a very definitely limey. You can’t really taste the ginger, but I think it adds a bit of complexity to the flavour. Like I said, winner.


Shortbread with Pepe Saya butter

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.