Posts tagged ‘lemon’

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.

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June 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm 41 comments

Mother’s Day Lemon Chiffon Cake

Generally, every baked good I make goes through the same life cycle. I make it because baking is my ultimate form of escape. I focus so hard when I’m baking that all my stresses just melt into the background, and as the pan goes into the oven and I wash the dishes by myself, I just think. And it’s utterly relaxing.

I don’t give too much thought to what happens after I’ve finished. So I’ve got an entire cake, or five dozen cookies. Now what?

Usually my mom and I eat a little of what I make. She doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, so she’ll try a small slice or one cookie. I’ll try it too, and if I like it, I might keep some and eat it throughout the week.

More than half of what I make, however, is always shared instead of kept at home. My mom sends plates of pretty stacked cookies over to our neighbors, who never bake themselves. I carry treats to school in my plastic cake carrier, stored in my locker until lunch time. And sometimes my mom brings it to work, so that whenever I’m in her office I inevitably get the question, “When are you baking again?”

But this cake. Oh, this innocent looking cake is a completely different story.

The first time I made it, my mother was actually shocked to like it. I had only just gotten into baking, and most everything was too rich or too sweet for her taste. But this chiffon cake, light as air and served without frosting, did it for her. Granted, it’s a small cake, but the two of us ate it all by ourselves.

I’ve made the cake countless times since, for her birthday and other special occasions. Once, over the course of 5 hours, my mom, dad, and I finished the entire thing. We started by cutting equal slices and carefully plating them, passing around forks. By the end, we tore off pieces of cake and brought them directly to our mouths. No utensils required.

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May 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm 38 comments

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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