I have been lucky enough to have worked as a pastry chef in some great establishments and hotels and have had the privilege of cooking for royalty at various times.
My time at the Goring Hotel, next to Buckingham Palace in London, holds especially fond memories for me and I cooked for the late Queen Mother on a number of occasions.
WHAT YOU NEED
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g pure icing (confectioners’) sugar, sieved
Finely grated zest of one lemon
70g plain (all-purpose) flour
25g cornflour (cornstarch)
20g rice four
WHAT TO DO
1 Preheat the oven to 160ºC (315ºC/Gas 2–3). Place two 15 cm (6 inch) diameter metal pastry rings on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spray the rings and the tray lightly with canola spray;
2 Place the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth and pale;
3 Sieve the three flours together and, using a silicone spatula, gently mix them into the butter and sugar mixture until the dough just comes together;
4 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work with your hands just until you have a smooth dough. Do not overwork;
5. Divide the dough in two pieces and push
one half of the dough into each ring using your hand. Gently push the dough evenly to the edges of each ring and make the surface as smooth as possible. Place the tray with the rings into the fridge to rest for 1 hour;
6 Remove the tray from the fridge and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until cooked through and starting to get the faintest of colour on top;
7 Remove the tray from the oven and allow the shortbread to cool. Once cool enough to handle, the rings should just lift off. Reserve one base for the construction of the White Chocolate, Violet, Pine Nut and Lemon cake and enjoy the other with a cup of tea!