When I moved to England in 2010 to go to school, my friend Christina and I hadn’t found a place to live. We had been seriously stressing out about it for a month or two – we didn’t want to be homeless when classes started, but it was impossible finding a flat when we weren’t there to see it. Christina left a week before me, and by some "friend-of-a-friend" miracle she met up with Brad and Tony, also from Canada, who took her in to their home. When I landed at Gatwick a week later, Brad had driven well over an hour from Maldon, Essex to get me. At like 7 in the morning. Can you imagine doing that for someone you’ve never even met? I wouldn’t – I’m ashamed to say I’m not that nice.
The niceness didn’t stop there. While we searched for a place to live, the Guys let us stay with them for over three weeks. They gave us rides to the train station, gave us invaluable advice on how to get by in a new country, and even helped us move in when we eventually found a flat. We were so, so, SO lucky to have them.
Anyway, Maldon is close to my heart for those (and many other) reasons. It was my first home in England, however temporary it was, and it’s where I got to stay with two of the kindest people ever.
But back to eating! Christina started classes before me, and so I was alone at Tony and Brad’s during those rainy days. I would sit in the living room with their dogs (Dafina and Shylo), looking for flats online, drinking mug after mug of tea and stress-eating Earl Grey shortbreads from Marks & Spencer. How very English.
Earl Grey Shortbread
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe
Makes 12-24, depending on the circumference of your cookies
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour
1 ½ tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea (approx. 2 teabags – I used Twinings)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Mix flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
With an electric mixer, whip the butter, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in flour mixture until it’s only just combined.
Form the dough into a log shape and wrap it tightly in cling film. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the log into centimetre-thick discs. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until edges are slightly golden, 12-14 minutes. Easy peasy. Bob’s your uncle. Pip pip, cheerio and all that rot.