17 and Baking Makes Some Dough – Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts
“17 and Baking Makes Some Dough,” and I don’t mean dough in the literal sense. I mean that I just did my first paid order. And it was pretty sweet. Bad puns all over the place, I know. I can’t resist, sorry!
A girl from my school wanted cookies for her mother’s birthday, and she offered to buy them! A floaty, unexpected feeling washed over me as I told my parents I’d gotten my first paid order. It felt like the start of something new.
I remember the first “real” cake that I baked – you know, not from a mix or anything. It was a sponge cake with golden raisins and when it came out of the oven, I couldn’t believe that it looked just like the picture! I was so proud and ate the whole thing.
Of course, looking back, I can see all the mistakes. I didn’t know that the butter had to be at room temperature. The cake was uneven and the frosting didn’t come together properly. But I didn’t know any of that at the time, and felt pretty good about myself!
I’ve often thought about baking that cake again, just to see how far I’ve come.
When I bought that cake cookbook from Costco for the pretty photographs, I never dreamed that one day I might actually make money from baking or that people would know me as the girl who likes to bake. Thinking about that first cake I made, it’s incredible to see how much I’ve learned at this point. It makes me anticipate all that I have yet to learn and the happiness I’ll get as I tackle even fancier and trickier baked goods.
It’s only been three years since I became interested in baking. Who knows what the next three years will bring?
Baking has been a learning experience, from my first real baking disaster (during which I actually sat on the kitchen floor and cried,) to the first time I brought cookies to school, to my first Daring Bakers entry. And this simple batch of shortbread proved to be another landmark in my baking career.
My client (!) asked for shortbread but left the flavor up to me. The sun has been good to our little herb garden, so I decided to use our Lemon Thyme in my shortbread. Then I found these cute little heart cookie cutters… and Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts were born.
I wasn’t sure how strong the thyme would be in the cookies, so I decided to throw in some zest to help the lemon flavor shine. I don’t especially care for shortbread, but as it turned out these cookies were really good. Straight out of the oven the cookies were buttery and crumbly, just how shortbread should be.
The thyme really does come through well without being overpowering. I pressed a whole thyme leaf into the center of each cookie and they came out just barely golden. And the hearts… too cute.
I found that chilling the dough before rolling and then chilling the cookies, already cut and on the pan, helped them keep their shape. So I stuck pan after pan in the fridge and freezer between baking.
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (preferably lemon thyme)
Zest of two medium lemons
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pulse together the flour, baking powder, salt, thyme, and lemon zest in a food processor a few times. Set aside.
Beat the butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract.
Add in the flour mixture in two batches, stirring until a thick dough forms. Divide the dough into two halves and pat into two disks, 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
After the dough is chilled, have ready pans lined with parchment paper or silpat. Roll each disk out with a rolling pin to 1/4″ or 1/2″ thick. Cut into shapes with the cookie cutters and bake 12 minutes, turning the pan around in the middle, until the bottoms are just barely golden.
Printer Friendly Version – Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts
I put the cookies in a pretty tin along with a little card for her mother’s birthday. I hope she enjoyed it!