I’ve made these little biscuits on three occasions this week, though never exactly the same each time – a touch of fennel seeds one time, maybe using whole wheat flour the next – and I’m pretty amazed that no matter how many little tweaks I make they come out fragrant and oh-so-moreish every time.
I think it has something to do with the base recipe – and you know I’m all about ‘base recipes’ because of their versatility in the kitchen. This one, catalogued in Alexa Johnston’s anthology of Kiwi baking Ladies, a Plate, is called the 2-4-6 recipe (due to its original recipe being written in Imperial measurements, i.e 2 ounces of sugar, 4 oz of butter, 6 oz of flour) though it’s essentially a shortbread recipe too. If you wanna make it super crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth replace 50g of the flour with cornflour.
This really is a stalwart of a recipe, one that can be whipped up at a moment’s notice or whenever you have people coming over for coffee and there’s nothin’ to dunk while you’re drinkin’.
ROSEMARY AND LEMON SHORTBREAD
Based on the ol’ classic 2-4-6 recipe.
2 oz / 56 grams of sugar
4 oz / 110 grams of cold butter, cubed
6 oz / 170 grams of flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (if you don’t have any, pick some on your way home – it grows everywhere)
the zest of 1 lemon
the juice of that zested lemon
optional add-ins: crushed fennel seeds (please try this too!), cardamom, candied ginger, toasted chopped almonds
Put it all (except lemon juice) in a food processor. Blitz until crumbly.
Alternatively, add it all into a large bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers until the it begins to look like chunky breadcrumbs (it’s also worth noting that if you’re doing this by hand then grating the cold butter first will save a lot of time)
Tip the crumbles onto a clean bench and drizzle over about half a tablespoon of the lemon juice. Mix about with your fingers until it starts to come together into a dough. Smash and bash it until it starts forming a cohesive mass, then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for like twenty minutes to an hour.
Clean and flour the bench. Preheat your oven to 180C.
Turn out your chilled dough, dust well with flour, then give it lots of good whacking with your rolling pin, wine bottle, or foraged rolling tool of choice. This might be a bit of a mission, but you got this, Start rolling gently, whacking, rolling more – continuing to make sure that the dough is floured beneath and doesn’t stick to the bench, and that it stays in a rough square shape.
Roll this dough out just under a centimetre thick, then flour well and slice into sticks, triangles, or whatever takes your fancy.
Transfer to an oven tray lined with baking paper, spaced about 1cm apart. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden and the fragrance in your house is impossible to resist.