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I’m sometimes struck by the simple beauty of an object. It could be a leaf (Jamie never lets me forget when once I fell over whilst saying “ooh leaf”). It could be the chrome bumper on an old MG. In this case it was a shortbread stone. Before I saw it, I didn’t even know that such a thing existed, and certainly didn’t think that I needed one. But then I stepped into Objects Of Use in Oxford. This is a beautiful little shop, selling handcrafted archetypal objects for the home. I saw the stone and knew that I had to have it (it has thistles imprinted into it – this excites me). Some months and pestering later, I got one from Jamie for my birthday.

And so today was its first outing. Siobhann was coming round for tea, and given her new cake-requiring state, I thought it would be apt. I had wanted to hold on until the elder flowers were in bloom, as I made some lovely gluten-free shortbreads flavoured with the flowers last year, but I couldn’t wait. Given what I had at home, saffron and orange suddenly sprang to mind (I think it’s because I’d seen something on television recently about growing your own autumnal crocuses to harvest the saffron that it was in my head). I was overly hesitant with the pinch of saffron and next time I’ll be a little braver. They were delicious biscuits though, and really did the stone proud.

Makes 8 Portions

100g butter, diced

50g golden caster sugar

125g plain flour

50g gluten-free flour (or rice flour)

Pinch of salt

½ tspn orange extract

Pinch of saffron strands

In a large bowl, cream the butter using a wooden spoon. Then add the sugar and salt. Once all mixed and smooth, sift the flours into the bowl, and add the orange extract and saffron. Mix with spoon, and then with hands to bring together a dough. Press into oiled shortbread stone (or greased baking dish), and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150c for about forty five minutes or until the point of turning golden –can turn quickly at the end!

Leave to cool in the mold / tin, and then turn out onto plate, sprinkle with golden caster sugar and divide into portions.

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