With Downton Abbey now in its fifth season, so much has happened with the storyline of the show, as well as in my life. I like to imagine Momma still watching Downton in Heaven while drinking tea, eating desserts, and having a laugh at the prim-and-proper yet witty Dowager Countess or "Granny" as she's known by the family.
I adore a cup of hot tea alongside something sweet like a scone with clotted cream and jam or a shortbread cookie. The Republic of Tea actually has its own line of Downton Abbey teas that are lovely to drink while watching the show.
The shortbread recipe I used is adapted from one I discovered at food.com. The recipe makes quite a lot of shortbread, but I found that if you cut them in bars and freeze them in freezer bags, you can defrost them individually in the microwave for one minute and serve alongside freshly-steeped hot tea.
2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with nonstick spray. In a stand-mixer, mix the butter at a medium-high speed until blended. Add the sugar while the mixer is running on medium-high, and continue to mix until well-blended and creamy. Add the flour gradually while the mixer is running on low, until flour is incorporated. Press the mixture into the dish. Prick a fork into the shortbread before baking. Sprinkle sugar on top of the entire shortbread. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars. Freeze leftovers in freezer bags for up to a month. Serve with hot tea, and enJOY watching Downton Abbey!