I have been meaning for quite some time to try baking with tea, I mean I love to drink it, so why not eat it too? Admittedly I mostly just drink standard black tea (English Breakfast, with milk, no sugar, about four cups a day; in case you were interested.), and although I have a cupboard full of herbal teas I rarely stray away from my usual; although I am partial to the occasional cup of Earl Grey or chai. I tried to like green tea because I know it's good for me, but I just couldn't do it; even the flavoured ones had to be forced down... I do try and refrain from drinking caffeine after about 5pm though, so if I fancy a hot drink in the evening I go for camomile tea (or hot chocolate or hot spiced milk).
Camomile is widely used for is relaxing properties and to aid sleep and is delicious sweetened with a little honey. I thought that it would work well in some simple, buttery shortbread biscuits, paired with a bit of lemon zest. It is a very delicate flavour, but takes the shortbread beyond being a simple biscuit to something a little more refined and elegant. Needless to say, they didn't last long, and went perfectly with a cup of tea (camomile or otherwise).
Shortbread is incredibly simple to make, and really doesn't take long at all; it is important to chill the biscuits well before you bake them though, as this ensures that they are crisp and stops them from spreading in the oven. I add a little cornflour to mine, which gives them a lovely melt in the mouth texture. I just cut open a couple of camomile tea bags to get the tea leaves, make sure that it is finely ground stuff though - you don't want big bits in your biscuits.
Camomile Tea & Lemon Shortbread
- 225 g (2 sticks) softened butter
- 110 g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) caster (superfine) sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- The contents of 3 camomile tea bags (about 4 tsp, make sure it is finely ground tea)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 225 g (1 + ¾ cups + 2 tbsp) plain flour
- 110 g (¾ cup + 2 tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch)
- Whisk the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy then cut open the tea bags and tip in the loose tea leaves ( make sure they are finely ground). Add the lemon zest and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cornflour then add it to the butter mixture and mix until it forms a dough; shape into a ball.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Cut into whatever shapes you like and place on two baking trays, prick each biscuit several times with the tines of a fork. Place the trays of biscuits in the freezer for about 15 minutes (or for at least 30 mins in the fridge), while you heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just golden around the edges. Leave to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack, sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool completely.
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