Today is baking day. The air is filled with the scents of mace and nutmeg. My kitchen is humming with activity as we prepare for our Valentine’s Day tea party!
3 cups flour
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups butter
1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
*Proof yeast in warm water for 5 minutes. Measure flour, powdered sugar, mace and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Add slightly softened butter and mix until all of the butter is worked into the dry ingredients. Pour proofed yeast/water into bowl and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Cover bowl with a clean dry cloth and set in a warm place for 1 hour, then chill for 30 minutes.
Roll dough out on a well floured surface to a scant 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with heart shaped cookie cutters. Emboss the cookies by stamping them with new, washed rubber stamps that have been dusted with flour. If desired, lightly brush ground nutmeg into the stamped designs before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes, until just starting to very lightly brown at the edges. Cool completely before removing from cookie sheets.
* 18th century shortbread receipts call for the addition of barm (yeast). I followed this tradition when I developed this recipe. I love mace and decided to add it, along with nutmeg to the cookies (both spices are part of the seeds of the nutmeg tree).
You are cordially invited to join us tomorrow for tea. We hope that you can come!