17 and Baking Makes Some Dough – Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts

June 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm 42 comments

“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.

Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks via The Castle Cookbook
Makes 5-6 dozen cookies

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!

Entry filed under: Cookies. Tags: , , , , , .

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42 Comments Add your own

  • 1. duodishes  |  June 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    They look beautiful! Lemon and thyme are a great match.

  • 2. Vicki  |  June 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I can definitely see myself becoming addicted to your blog. lol

    Vicki Lo

    P.S. I used to be a big blogger, but it died and now I don’t really update my lj. I mostly lurk or post in communities and the sort.

  • 3. Wendy  |  June 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Mmm! They look very nice! And great photos, congrats for the new camera :)

  • 4. Em  |  June 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Absolutely lovely =)

  • 5. Shannon L  |  June 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Congrats on your first paid baking job! I remember I would sell this incredibly hungry guy cupcakes every day in Chem for a dollar each. I remember the first time I baked from scratch, it was only about 2 years ago, and it was buttermilk vanilla cupcakes and cream cheese frosting, and I had no clue what I was doing. I love seeing the progression of baking skills from Betty Crocker to fancy desserts. I hope you continue to progress!

  • 6. malgosia  |  June 13, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Wow:-)! They look oh so lovely! Really one can see that You are making food with your heart!
    As for the first order – Congrats! You can be truly proud of yourself!

  • 7. oneordinaryday  |  June 13, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Good for you! They look beautiful and your birthday card was a nice professional touch. You have great instincts.

  • 8. Alana @ The Good Girl Gone Blog  |  June 13, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Ahh that’s spectacular! Nice work!

  • 9. ciaochowlinda  |  June 13, 2009 at 4:37 am

    great job. These look perfect. You’re on your way!

  • 10. TasteStopping  |  June 13, 2009 at 5:00 am

    These look delicious. And! You are a great writer as well as baker. What a combination. Congratulations!

    (I found you at TasteSpotting…great photo! If you ever submit something there that doesn’t make the cut, look me up. I’ll publish your declined photos. Just a thought for your growing business! :) )



  • 11. Carrie of CKC  |  June 13, 2009 at 6:16 am


  • 12. Marian  |  June 13, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Congrats! They look great and I love your tag!
    I see wonderful things coming your way!! =)

  • 13. Claire  |  June 13, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Congratulations! These cookies are lovely – I adore how sweet the tiny hearts are. I’m sure there are many more orders in your future!

  • 14. Jackie  |  June 13, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Wow, those shortbread are so cute! I think the lemon and thyme combination is a great idea. Congratulations on your first order :)

  • 15. Gale  |  June 13, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I bake batches and batches of shortbread. These sound so good, and I have lemon thyme in my garden. I wish you great success in your baking future!

  • 16. FOOD IS LUV  |  June 13, 2009 at 9:44 am

    those are so cute! and your photos are great! congrats on your order!

  • 17. Valerie  |  June 13, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Wow, quite a milestone! Congrats! And the flavours you used are so original!

    I still remember the first thing I ever baked: a pear tarte tatin. It was a recipe in the newspaper. I just thought I’d give it a shot, see if it was true that simply following the recipe would lead to something edible. The pie itself had some problems, of course. But I never thought I would grow to love baking and cooking SO much. :-)

  • 18. Baking Monster  |  June 13, 2009 at 10:34 am

    what a cute idea!

  • 19. niaknowles  |  June 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Congrats on all your accomplishments! These look wonderful :)
    My girls (8yrs & 5)would love to make them! Thanks

  • 20. nutmegnanny  |  June 13, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Congrats on your first paid order:) Your cookies look delicious!!!

  • 21. Mélanie  |  June 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I know how it feels, and it’s so great to know people are ready to pay for what we do… What we LOVE to do… I’m very happy for you!

  • 22. Marta  |  June 13, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Evviva!!!! Hooray!!! YAY!!!!!
    I’m so glad for you!!!!! I’m sure the client was thoroughly satisfied, these look so elegant and lovely! Great call on the lemon thyme, I love these twists on classics! I think the next three years will bring you tons more recognition and business, and I think you’re future will be chocolate-paved with delicious success (don’t let a few rocky roads let in the way!)… man, I’m terrible at puns!
    Congrats Elissa!

  • 23. Monica h  |  June 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I’m certain she enjoyed them. the packaging, the note, the little hearts- it’s all too cute.

    Congrats on your first paying job!

  • 24. Megan {Feasting on Art}  |  June 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    These look so beautiful! I must try this soon, I absolutely love shortbread!!

  • 25. Lori @ RecipeGirl  |  June 14, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Congrats! It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? I was hired to do wedding cupcakes for a teacher at my son’s school. Seems that baking all of those goodies for the teachers finally paid off!

    I love these little cookies. Try rosemary sometime too- that makes for a nice shortbread flavor as well.

  • 26. Erin  |  June 15, 2009 at 5:04 am

    These are just lovely Elissa! Congratulations on your first paid gig. I hope your client’s mother enjoyed them thoroughly. I’m always a big fan of cutting things into hearts. They make everything just a bit more precious.

  • 27. Jen  |  June 15, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Congrats girlie! I adore the photo of the heart stamps left behind in the dough.

  • 28. Abby  |  June 15, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Those are adorable and they look yummey too! I’m sure she will love them!! :)

  • 29. Austin  |  June 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Congratulations! This is so cool, I didn’t know you were so into this. Good luck!

  • 30. Tianne  |  June 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    congrats! weird – i got my first paid order for baked goods today too! it’s such a good feeling. i totally know :)

  • 31. Madison  |  June 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Congrats! I’m sure her mother loved them.

  • 32. Grow Your Own #29 « gardenopolis  |  June 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    […] from the blog 17 and Baking lives in Seattle, WA (USA), and made Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts using lemon-thyme grown in her herb garden. Sounds yummy. I wonder if she’ll have to change […]

  • 33. Mélanger  |  June 19, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Love the thyme and love the label. Looks like something I would do!! ;)

  • 34. Andrea  |  June 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Congratulations on your first client! The cookies came out so pretty, I’m sure they were a hit. I love the combination of lemon and thyme, they taste so good together. Thanks for sharing your cookies with Grow Your Own!

  • 35. Amanda  |  June 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I just did my first two paid orders in the last couple of weeks. I think it feels a little bit weird to get paid for something that I consider a hobby. But I’m not complaining! :)

    I love the lemon thyme flavor, by the way.

  • 36. megan  |  June 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I love the cookies! And paying attention to the little details like that beauiful card. I’d would certainly pay for your services! I say job very well done! :) I love the lemon thyme combo. I just made lemon rosemary pound cake and there is just something about those kind of flavors that thrill me.

  • 37. Eliana  |  June 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

    These cookies look so elegant. Great job with these :)

  • 38. anu  |  June 27, 2009 at 1:10 am

    whoa! i had no idea you had a blog!!!!
    your great and this blog is amazing!

  • 39. Kayvie  |  July 6, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Hello! I made these last weekend and they were beautiful! I only had English thyme at home (finally the supermarkets in the UK are showing some efforts (no matter how minimal) to source locally), so I only used a little and added some poppyseeds instead. I wanted to save some of the dough (it’s sitting in my freezer!) so I rolled the dough up into a sausage shape and cut cookies out of that. They were lovely! Thanks for another great recipe. x

  • 40. Elisabeth  |  February 23, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    You have the most beautiful lemon thyme I’ve ever seen!

  • […] lemon-thyme shortbread hearts from 17 And Baking have plenty of lemon flavor to complement the herbaceous aroma of the […]

  • […] what do I need to do to unwind? Make rosemary, lemon shortbread cookies! I got the inspiration from this lovely lady, but I didn’t have any thyme, so I figured I’d try rosemary and see how it worked […]


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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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