Inspired by my perusal of Heidi Swanson‘s superb cookbook Super Natural Cooking, I’ve been motivated to start baking with more esoteric – to me, at least – grains and foods. I’m all stocked up on my favourite quinoa to try out some of her recipes (you’ll find plenty more online at 101 Cookbooks), millet, amaranth, linseed and – in the move – rediscovered some Letheringsett Watermill Organic Spelt Flour from our trip to Norfolk. Subtitled “Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into your Cooking”, it’s a perfect read if you’re interested in cooking with whole foods and wanting to learn more about what is available and what can be done with it. And, unlike the educational but boring-looking Fresh and Wild Cookbook, it looks amazing.
One of the things I really like about Super Natural Cooking is the way that Heidi encourages you to substitute whole grains for what you would use normally. Quinoa instead of orzo, pearl barley for risotto rice, tef flour in a quiche crust instead of wheat flour. Little steps to help you integrate all these new foods in your diet without feeling like you’re having to completely change your recipes and ways of cooking. In that spirit, while making some Shortbread to fill the tins, I decided to finally use some of my spelt flour. This was encouraged by the bag almost falling out of my baking cupboard as I reached for the sugar. When your ingredients start to fight back it is definitely a sign that you need to actually use them!
To complement the nutty taste of the spelt, I added a quarter-teaspoonful of dried lavender flowers, bought in a Moroccan supermarket last year. Be very careful while you measure these out – too much and your Lavender Spelt Shortbread can easily taste like the scrapings from little-old-lady dressing table.
Lavender Spelt Shortbread
Butter – 250g, cubed
Unbleached flour – 250g
Organic spelt flour – 125g
Light Muscovado sugar – 125g
Dried lavender flowers – ¼ teaspoon
Caster sugar – 3 tablespoons
Preheat oven to 150°C. Butter a 25cm x 38cm x 4cm baking tin and leave to one side.
Rub the butter and flours together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Rub in the sugar until the mixture starts to come together. Press evenly into the prepared baking tin and prick with a fork.
Cook for 50 minutes until pale golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle immediately with the caster sugar and let cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Wsing a sharp knife, score the shortbread into approximately 7 x 2.5 cm fingers.
Makes approximately 50 pieces.