I used to hate tea. When I tried it, I felt like I was drinking dirty water. Sitting down for a cuppa was totally unappealing to me.
Then I moved to England.
Oh, the land of cream tea. The first time I had a tea and scone in England was at a little establishment called The Nosebag. For such an strange name, they certainly did have some good eats. That is where tea became a comfort to me and where scones with clotted cream and jam changed my life.
I still find sitting down with a cup of tea to be a wonderful thing. While I don’t do it often enough, sipping tea with cream out of a proper teacup helps me slow down and feel a little peaceful. I love to enjoy tea with friends but even alone, it has a calming effect on me. I think that the warmth is important but also the ritual of it and the strong memories of my days in Oxford have a powerful impact on me.
A good cup of tea just isn’t the same without a small bite to accompany it, however. I can’t indulge in scones with clotted cream all the time but one thing I do enjoy is a shortbread cookie. Just one (okay, more like two, three, or four) with a soothing cup of tea can make up my perfect afternoon.
Here is a recipe I often use that I adapted from the crust of my favorite tart:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
Combine flour and sugar in a food processor. Add cubed butter. Pulse until crumbly. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Pulse until dough just comes together. Dump out dough onto plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into squares or use cookie cutter approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Prick cookies with a fork. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until they just begin to get golden.
I like to enjoy them when they are still slightly warm.