A Brief Story of my Journey up until now
It begins the same as many things do: with a lot of excitement, a fresh outlook, and a slight anxiety for what is to come. It is a new path, and yet, it feels as though I am retracing my steps, marking the path of crumbs, back whence I came.
I have been cooking, baking, experimenting with, and modifying recipes for many years now. It all started when I was very young, and would make sweets from my mother's Cookies cookbook. Always most intrigued by the ethnic cookies I had never tried -- soft butter cookies rolled in powdered sugar, cookies filled with ground nuts and chopped figs -- I yearned to give life to those large, scrumptious photos. I would bake whenever the desire would strike me, constantly asking my kind neighbours for a little butter, half a cup of sugar, one egg, a rolling pin: you name it.
As a young adult, I turned to cooking and flourished under my grandmother's wise guidance. Coming from Abruzzo, Italy, she is an enthusiastic cook and a meticulous baker. I spent years scouring her recipes, learning from her, and sharing with her the love of food. Since then, I have trained in bakeries in London (Violet Cakes London, The Snapery, October 26 Bakery), absorbing all that I can of the science behind sourdough bread (wild, natural fermentation) and the artistry of sweets, similar to what I would make when I started (cakes, cookies, and biscuits).
As with many recipes, I came up with this idea after finding a bag of buckwheat flour in the pantry, and eyeing a vibrant Ligurian lemon on the table. They were meant to be together -- buckwheat: earthy and distinct, and lemon: fresh and uplifting.
Harmonious dissonance. Such a combination fits well with a shortbread, which is, of itself, a simple and unassuming cookie.
Lemon Buckwheat Shortbread
- 120 g buckwheat flour
- 120 g spelt flour
- 60 g raw cane sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 4 g salt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 150 g butter, unsalted
- 1 egg yolk
Combine the flours, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl.
Cut the butter into cubes and add them to the dry mixture. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the beaten egg yolk. Mix it in well and then form into a ball.
Line a 23 cm pan with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is roughly the size of the pan. Place it onto the parchment, gently push it to fit the shape of the pan, and then smooth the surface.
Place the dough in the fridge for about 1 hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175°C.
With a knife, cut into the dough, defining the shape of the final cookies. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden on top and bottom. Right after removing the pan from the oven, run over the lines again with a knife, making sure to cut all the way through.
Let cool and then carefully remove from the pan.