A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked*

As well you know, I have perfectionist tendencies. I should, however, clarify that such tendencies are almost always directed towards myself (and sometimes the Bedmate - poor soul). I promise you that I am not someone who is ridiculously high maintenance and when I am not being pinnikity about having my books in alphabetical order I am actually pretty laid back. So please don't think it's just me having crazily high standards when I say:

Is it just me or is anyone else ever a little disappointed by their friends sometimes?

I feel like a traitor even saying it and I don't want you to think that I don't have great friends who are very dear to me, but so much energy is expended dissecting the relationships between men and women that sometimes I think we forget that our friends can upset us even more than the latest crush.

So, recently I have been feeling a little bit jaded about my long term relationships. A missed birthday here, a last minute cancellation there - I felt like running away with the milk-man. Thankfully I have been saved from becoming this cliche** by a couple of lovely ladies I met on a brief jaunt to a different office with work.

We bonded over our shared love of food and we grew closer still with lively debates on the merits of slide-out brownie pans (truly excellent). But it was on my final day in the office that I realised I was in the presence of greatness. Returning to my desk after lunch I was met with a slab of chewy brownies and the moistest carrot cake I had ever encountered. Being the one who normally caters for these sorts of occasions, I felt truly touched at being the recipient this time. However, hating to come to a party empty-handed, I was glad I had brought some baked-goods of my own to add to the haul:

Traditional Shortbread
This shortbread is one of the first recipes I remember making; pressing the dough into the corners of a battered old pan and decorating the surface with row after row of fork marks. The result is a crumbly, sandy biscuit which is rich in flavour but light in bite.

50z plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch of salt
1oz rice flour or ground rice
2oz caster sugar
40z butter (use a brand that you enjoy the flavour of)
  1. Sift the four, salt and rice flour/ground rice into a bowl.
  2. Add the sugar and grate in the butter straight from the fridge. Or add the butter, diced.
  3. Using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the dried ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Press the mixture into a 7-inch straight sided sandwich tin (I actually used the aforementioned brownie pan). Because of the butter content you shouldn't need to grease/line your tin. Don't worry if the mixture needs a little force to push it together - that's normal.
  5. Chill the mixture in the fridge for an hour or so. Once the shortbread is chilled you can decorate the top and mark out the portions so it's easier to break when cooked. Traditionally, the shortbread would be cut into short bread "tails" (triangles) with patterns provided by a fork.
  6. Put into a preheated oven (3o0 degrees) for about an hour or until the shortbread is pale straw coloured. Allow the baked shortbread to cool on a wire rack and then break into pieces.
  7. I decided to go a little Jackson Pollock with my biscuits (apologies to the thousands of Scots who are now turning in their graves) and drizzled melted plain chocolate across the top. If you want to be authentic, you should dredge the completed biscuits with caster sugar.

I also made Orangette's sumptuous 'Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Cake'. Moist, rich and dense, I can assure you that it is absolutely as good as it sounds and with only 1 tablespoon of flour is pretty much health food. Next time I would like to try the recipe using orange-flavoured dark chocolate and a slug of Cointreau.

So, I left the office with a full tummy and a renewed faith in the power of female friendships. And, as if the cakes hadn't been enough, a dazzling new addition for my kitchen:

A big hurrah to new friends!

* Anon.

* Apologies, I can't find out how to do the "e "with an accent on blogger. Any tips gratefully received.

1 comment:

Tea said...

It's lovely to meet others who are on the same page as you, isn't it? (especially when it happens to be a cookbook page!:-)