(Written in 2005 for Sandy80461's birthday.)
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES
"Ma," said Elanor, "what's that lovely smell? It can't be roses!" She bent over the pan, still warm and steaming from the oven.
"Those are Bucklebury Cakes. I had some when your Dad and I went to the fair there with the Brandybucks. Estella was kind enough to give me the receipt. They are flavored with nutmeg and rosewater."
Elanor wrinkled her nose. "Roses smell nice, but I can't think they would taste very good," the tweenager said.
"You'd be surprised. Your Dad says they use it in cooking in the South a lot, and that in Rivendell, the Elves put rose petals and other flowers in the salads."
She looked at Rose doubtfully.
Her mother grinned. "Try one. Only one, mind you! These are for the baked goods sale we are holding to help the Bunce family." She meant a family there in Hobbiton that had recently lost a good many of their possessions in a fire. Several of the Hobbiton matrons had decided that a good way to help the family was to hold a baked goods sale on their behalf.
Rose watched indulgently as her daughter picked one of the little cakes up-really, they were more like biscuits than cakes-sniffed it, and then took a nibble. Elanor's eyes grew wide, and she quickly devoured the rest of it. "Ma, these are wonderful! You can barely taste the roses, but all the same…"
"So, do you think I can get a farthing apiece for them?"
"Oh no, you could charge two farthings each for these!"
Rose nodded. "That's what they were charging in Buckland at the fair." She smiled, for she had not been certain that hers were as good as the ones they had there, but it would make that much more coin for the poor Bunces. She scooped out another measure of flour.
"Ma, are you making another batch? May I help?"
"Certainly, Ellie-lass. Why don't you cream the butter and sugar for me?"
Mother and daughter worked in companionable silence, happy to be doing for others.
¼ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup sifted flour
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
½ Tablespoon food-grade rosewater (commonly found in ethnic food stores)
Cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Sift the flour and nutmeg together in a separate bowl.
Add the rosewater to the sugar/butter mixture, and stir in the dry ingredients gradually until blended. Chill the dough for about ten minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to about ¼" thick, and then cut with a two or three inch round cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minute, or until barely brown around the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container.
*This is actually a recipe for a kind of shortbread cookie called "Shrewsbury Cakes", and dates back to at least Elizabethan times. They smell delightful while baking, and the rose flavor is very subtle.