I’m not a demanding girl. Really, I’m not. I have simple tastes and I don’t require fancy clothes or jewels or wine. I’m not a bride-zilla and I’m not a nagging girlfriend- I simply tell Don to do something rather than ask. All I ever want is a decent cup of tea and in the afternoon an equally complimentary biscuit. Is that really too much to ask? I think not.
And yet, five weekends out of ten I find myself in a less than satisfactory tea situation delivered by my very own nearest and dearest. My father has made my mother tea, in bed, every morning of their marriage and yet here I am about to embark on holy matrimony and I cannot rely on an acceptable cup of tea. He insists on making it- and I try my best to encourage and compliment if and when it arrives in a drinkable state, but honestly most of the time it isn’t worth the cost of the imported tea bag.
Don does not drink tea. Seriously. Sometimes I question how English he actually is- a Brit that doesn’t drink tea? Sounds suspicious to me. And whilst I regret that we cannot read the papers or eat breakfast pouring each other tea from the pot, I regret even more that Don fails appreciate the finer points in tea making. This isn’t about how long you steep the tea bag for or whether or not the milk was put in before the tea was poured or after- this is about appreciating a quality cup of tea. Quality being key word. Don cannot see the difference between serving a cup of tea that resembles dirty dishwasher or one that it is rich in golden colour. This is a problem.
I can live with the dried up contact lenses that he flicks onto the floor rather than into the rubbish bin. I can handle the large shoes, which I trip over in the morning or the fact that he snores, can’t clean the dishes properly and always throws his dirty clothes over my neatly laid out clean ones. But, this tea situation is honestly quite dire.
My only consolation is that at least I can rely on myself for a decent biscuit (and tea, of course). Something buttery and rich, not too sweet, not too crumbly and one that will dunk without leaving too much biscuity residue in the bottom of my cup. This malted oat shortbread was inspired by a need for something wholesome- malt powder, whole wheat pastry flour and oats. The malted flavour is mild but it really adds depth so I highly recommend using it if you have some lying around. One things for sure, as healthy as these look they won’t be lying around for long- Don ate ten in a row after I scolded him for the abysmal tea he served me. Demanding? I think not.
Malted oat shortbread
Makes: 21 slices or one x cm pan
175g/ 6oz butter, softened
50g/ 1/4 cup caster sugar
30g/2 Tbsp organic raw sugar or demarara/turbinado sugar
85g/ 3 oz plain flour
100g/ 4oz whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
35g/ 3 T horlicks (or other malted drink powder, not granules)
75g/ 3 oz quick porridge oats, roughly whizzed in a food processor
1/ Beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add both of the sugars and beat together until fully combined (about 1 minute)
2/ Add the flours and salt and mix until just about fully combined. Add the horlicks and oats and fold in. Bring together with your hands and then dump into your baking tray.
3/ Press evenly into the baking tray- i find using a flat-bottomed glass very helpful here. Prick all over with a fork and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes.
4/ Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Bake shortbread for 20-25 minutes or until very lightly golden and the top feels sandy when lightly brushed with the tip of your finger. Allow to fully cool in the pan and then remove and slice seven ways across and three ways down. Store in an airtight container.