St Clement’s squares
- March 2019
- Makes 15-18
- Hands-on time 20 min, oven time 50 min, plus chilling and cooling
Make your mum these lemony, flower-topped St Clement’s shortbreads to serve as afternoon tea on Mother’s Day. They’re simple but delectable: a soft shortbread-like base with a zingy citrus topping melding into it – a glorious bake for Mothering Sunday (or any day).
- 11.8g (6.9g saturated)
- 34.1g (18.6g sugars)
For the shortbread base
- 225g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 100g caster sugar
- 325g plain flour
- Icing sugar to dust
- Edible flowers to serve (optional; see tip)
For the topping
- 215g caster sugar
- 40g plain flour
- Juice 2 lemons, plus finely grated zest ½
- Juice 1 orange, plus finely grated zest ½
- 4 medium free-range eggs
You’ll also need…
- 20cm x 30cm cake tin, greased and lined with non-stick baking paper
- For the base, heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. In a food processor, pulse together the butter, thyme and sugar with a pinch of salt until the mixture is creamy. Add the flour and pulse again until it just comes together to form a dough. If you don’t have a food processor, beat the ingredients in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer until creamy, then quickly beat in the flour.
- Press the dough into the lined cake tin, then chill for 30 minutes until very cold. Prick the base all over with a fork, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and dry.
- Mix the topping ingredients (don’t over-whisk), then immediately pour over the baked base. Return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes until just set, then leave to cool in the tin. Dust with icing sugar and scatter with edible flowers, if you like. Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.
It’s vital to chill the butter for the shortbread base to prevent the mixture becoming greasy.
Don’t over-work the dough for the base in step 1. Too much handling will develop the gluten (proteins) in the flour, which will make it tough. What you’re looking for here is a delicate, soft, melt-in-the-mouth crumb.
Chilling the shortbread and allowing it to relax in step 2 will help it keep its shape and reduce shrinkage.
Don’t over-whisk the topping mixture in step 3 as it may cause a sugar crust to form during baking. Don’t worry if that happens, though – once you’ve dusted it with icing sugar no one will notice.
Make up to 1 day ahead and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.
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