Lavender and Walnut Shortbread

Lavender is one of those foods that can be scary. You don't want to feel like you're eating soap and you could so easily go into soap territory if you put just a pinch too much in. Don't worry though, I've learnt with these shortbreads that it's not as scary as you might think and the result is wonderful. I bought a bag of dried lavender from Sous Chef in November last year and with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas it lay forgotten about. I'm so glad I brought it out of hiding in all it's purple-y goodness.
 
As I write this I'm trying to deter a very curious kitten from strolling over the keyboard. Evie (our latest addition, incase you missed her introduction in my smoothie post) is learning all about the wonders of shortbread whilst licking her paws. She's got a pretty cushy life.
 
I'm so glad we got her. It's been less than a week but I love having this little companion. Nick is out for the day on Saturday so I'm looking forward to a morning with Evie baking lots of exciting new recipes and drinking coffee - well, she'll be drinking water, we are not giving the cat coffee! I didn't come from a pet loving household. We had a rabbit for a short while, and a goldfish, but I never knew the wonders of owning a cat or a dog. I can now appreciate those people who are so in love with their pets. It's a comfort, and as I've gotten older, comfort is something that has become increasingly important to me, be it shoes or owning a cat.
 
Shortbread is comforting. These biscuits are comforting. Crumbly and nutty and melt in your mouth. When  was younger I wore shoes that were too high, went out without a coat in January and stayed up late without a care in the world. Now I pretty much only ever wear flat shoes, I always wrap up warm and I like to start turning in at 10pm. I have to remind myself sometimes I'm only 26 but I got to a point where I couldn't be bothered to force myself to stand in clubs being grumpy and uncomfortable. I would much rather have good friends round, drink gin and eat fancy shortbreads. It should be noted that if you knock on my door with a bottle of gin I will welcome you in and offer you fancy shortbreads.
 
Lavender and Walnut Shortbread
(Recipe adapted from Sweet Tooth by Lily Vanilli)
 
300g plain white flour (or spelt flour)
75g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
25g icing sugar
pinch of salt
good pinch of lavender, ground in a pestle and mortar
50g walnut pieces
250g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  1. To start with, lay your walnut pieces out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and toast for 5 minutes in a 180 C/350 F oven. Leave to cool completely.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, icing sugar, salt and ground lavender into a large bowl. You might have to push some of the lavender through the sieve with a wooden spoon. Add the cold butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the walnut pieces.
  3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and bring together to form a dough. Don't over work it though.
  4. Roll out onto a floured surface to around 1cm thick. Cut into a circles using a 2.5 inch cutter and lay on a lined baking tray. Place the tray(s) in the fridge and leave for 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Bake for around 12 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes until transferring to a wire rack. Dust the biscuits with sugar and let cool completely.