This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
The weather has been the subject of many people's conversations recently. It is wet. It is windy. It is grey. Fortunately, a comforting, tried and tested book or film can take us away from all of this dreariness. Last week I went for the film, Julie & Julia, with its recipe of chicken, mushrooms and the rich comfort of cream. This week, I'm going for the buttery richness of shortbread from Sally by Freya North. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Surely this weather warrants such decadence!
The shortbread in Sally is used to describe the relaxed mealtimes of the Lomax family. Essentially the Lomaxes were a family of dunkers. A mealtime habit, which Sally's disdainful mother heartily disapproved of. Sally, along with her late father, her late uncle and her aunt Celia would happily and heartily dunk soldiers into their breakfast egg, bread into their lunchtime soup and shortbread into their supper time cocoa. Butter could be dribbling down their chins or they might have a cocoa moustache, but this didn't matter because they had smiles on their faces. The dunking enhanced the food.
And when Sally runs away from Richard and her London life to stay with her Aunt Celia for a while, dunking commences immediately. (Cracked rolls with cold butter dunked into barley soup. Mmm.) Conversation, a relaxed mealtime, catching up …
Sally is home.
A baking tray. Mine was 23x33cm with about 1cm depth, but you can use smaller and deeper, or divide into two. If yours is smaller and deeper, you might wish to extend the cooking time by a few minutes. Cover the tray in baking parchment.
285g/10oz plain flour
170g/6oz caster sugar
55g/2oz ground rice or semolina
Optional: 100g white chocolate, milk or dark chocolate chopped into small chunks. Or grated zest of one orange. Or even a chopped up chocolate orange. Lots of options here, or you can leave plain.
Sugar for sprinkling
- Pre-heat oven to 140 fan or 160 regular.
- If you have an electric food processor you can just add all your ingredients and mix.
- Otherwise, add the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together using your fingers. Then mix in the sugar and semolina and chocolate if using.
- Pour out into your baking tin and press down firmly with your hands or with a rolling pin.
- Bake for 30 minutes – slightly more if yours is a deeper tin.
- Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly then sprinkle with sugar and cut into squares.
- Allow to completely cool in the tin then remove.
- Eat. Dunking into cocoa is obligatory.