My mother was the ultimate shortbread cookie baker. Her's were the best ever. She would bake dozens of them for holidays and special occasions and store them in old-fashioned cookie tins. A while back I wrote here about my mother and her wonderful talent for baking. Today would have been her ninety-third birthday. Mom passed away last month after a long struggle with dementia. I'll be thinking about her this Sunday; her kind and gentle nature, her generous spirit, and all the good times we had together. This is for you Mom.
(makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
finely grated zest of a medium-sized lemon
2 scant teaspoons lavender buds, chopped into small pieces, if necessary
4 ounces confectioner's sugar
10 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ounces rice flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter with the lemon zest and chopped lavender. This is best accomplished with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon (you may use an electric mixer, but do not over work the mixture). Gradually blend in the confectioner's sugar and mix until evenly combined. Add the flour mixture, a 1/2 cup or so at a time, and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough gently in the bowl to combine the last bits of flour. Remove the cookie dough to your work space and divide it in two pieces. You may form each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log, or simply pat each piece into a flattened disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for an hour or so (or as long as 2-3 days). When ready to bake preheat the oven to 325F, position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the dough logs into 3/8-inch slices and place on the prepared sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. If you prefer to cut shapes for your cookies, roll the chilled discs about 1/4-inch thick and cut the cookies into whatever shape you please. Gently pat together the scraps and continue until all the dough is shaped. Bake the shaped cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the sheet to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or tin.