These lemon shortbread cookies are great! It could be argued that they’re just a cookie lemon bar but I love them! As some people may know, my new quest is trying to figure out which of my recipes do well when mailed across the country. Some lucky readers will even get to taste these once they make their way through USPS. I wouldn’t count on the reliability of the post in the US at the moment but I’m always willing to try something new. According to the online news sources that I read, the best baked goods to ship across the country are dense and hardy. I can vouch for the density of the cookies, but I’ll have to ask the recipients about their hardiness! I’m hoping that they stand up to the test of the mail but we’ll see! Obviously, once I heard that I needed to make something dense, I HAD to look for new recipes rather than use the old favorites. If these do ship well, I may experiment with those too! So here’s hoping to a problem-free transport process!
These cookies are very easy shortbread cookies. They’re “press-in” shortbread which means that you select the tin of your choice and press the dough in; no rolling out needed! It’s a super simple recipe and I would recommend doing it with your little ones if you have any. In about fifteen minutes, I was able to go from prepping my ingredients to putting the dough into the oven. The recipe calls for using a nine inch square tin however I am somewhat limited by my kitchen storage space so I used my nine inch cake round instead! It worked out really well and like the nine inch square pans, you just need to be careful to distribute the dough evenly as you press it in. If you have any spots that are a lot thicker than the rest of the recipe, they won’t bake properly and will mean that the rest of the dough may burn while you’re waiting for that spot to cook. Again, this recipe is really easy so that’s probably the only part that you could mess up. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did and happy baking!
No Roll Lemon Shortbread Recipe
149 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon zest (roughly the zest of one or two lemons) I like mine really lemon-y so I just pour in the zest
340 grams (3 sticks or 1 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
390 grams (3 1/4 cup) All Purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9 inch pan with parchment paper. Don’t just butter or grease, it will prevent the cookies from baking, use paper or a silicone mat inside the tin if you have an appropriately sized one.
Combine sugar and lemon zest with your fingers in a medium bowl. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant.
In a larger bowl, combine the butter and lemon/sugar mixture. Once combined and fluffy, mix in the vanilla and salt.
Add flour and mix until just combined. Will be thick.
Press into an even layer in the prepared pan. Prick every inch or so (I forgot this step but try to if you can, it’ll help it to bake through)
Bake 30-35 minutes, until just golden. Remove from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting or serving.
These were a lovely shortbread recipe that came together in a matter of minutes! These cookies did need quite a while to cool in the fridge so factor that in when you’re planning on making them and make sure that you have plenty of fridge space for all the cookies! I decided to make these after a particularly bad baking day last week. I talked with one of my best friends in the whole world for an hour or two over FaceTime and she inspired me to bake these! I had been wanting to make a lemony dessert for some time; I haven’t been able to let go of the summery feeling that lemons bring and decided to capitalize on this. I grabbed a lemon at the store and was able to make do with what else I had at home. I really loved how crisp and short that these turned out! I haven’t had a ton of luck with shortbread in the past but these were great cookies to start with.
The recipe only calls for a teaspoon or two of lemon zest but I ended up zesting a whole lemon into the dough and it wasn’t too much for me. The dough, sans the lemon zest, is actually a great shortbread base that could be added to to make a ton of different kinds of shortbread. I’ll be experimenting with this in the future so I’ll keep you all posted if I find a good derivative of this recipe for another flavor. The dough also held its shape really well after being rolled out and chilled. I’ve had issues with this in the past and it’s made me wary of using some of my trickier cookie cutouts but go wild here! The cookies will hold so find your craziest cookie cutter and get baking! Let me know in the comments below how it works out for you and happy baking!
Lemon Shortbread Recipe
113 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (indents when you poke it)
29 grams (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons packed lemon zest (I zest the whole lemon but I love lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams (1 cup) All Purpose flour
pinch of kosher salt (between 1/8 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon)
Granulated sugar for rolling
Line two baking sheets. (The dough can be made 3 days in advance and just chill in the fridge until needed)
Beat together butter and powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla extract
Beat in flour and kosher salt and beat until just blended.
Transfer dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Place plastic-wrapped disk into the fridge and chill until firm, 20-30 minutes
Position a rack in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.
Transfer dough from plastic wrap onto a sugared surface. It replicates the non-stick that flour helps with but coats the dough deliciously.
Cut out shapes in the dough with a cookie cutter or lid of a mason jar or with the lid of a clean drinking glass.
Place cut outs on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and chill for 10 minutes. Coat lightly with sugar before putting them back in the fridge.
Bake cookies until light brown, 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully, the cookies around the edge of the cookie sheet with brown faster.
So these were made on the same week as my catastrophic blue soup. It was a week that felt like nothing would go right for me in the kitchen but I kept going! These cookies were absolutely scrumptious and if they had stayed in my kitchen, I may have devoured the lot. These cookies are warm and inviting with a little glaze on top to tickle the tastebuds. It hasn’t really felt like fall much here in Baltimore with the heat, but compared to CA it’s a veritable igloo over here! This recipe is from the Los Angeles Times Food section from about a month ago that I saved until I needed a little dose of fall.
So even though they turned out delicious in the end, there were some technical issues to be aware of as you try this recipe! I did not have enough butter on hand when I was making the recipe and substituted in some margarine which worked well. However, I did microwave the butter briefly because I hadn’t left it out long enough to soften. The microwaving made the margarine too soft and while I was able to mix the cookies up just fine, the batter was much softer than I would have liked. Before I scooped it, I froze the dough for twenty minutes which is good practice whenever you have really slack or soft cookie dough. Once baked, the cookies tasted fine but went soft pretty quickly. This recipe calls for a glaze which can add moisture to the cookies. If you prefer crunchier cookies, bake for an addition minute or two but watch carefully. The high sugar content from the brown sugar and maple syrup means that these cookies can catch or burn in the oven really quickly. A note on the glaze, mine wasn’t particularly white colored but to make a more solid glaze, you can add teaspoons of powdered sugar until it reaches the appropriate consistency and color that you prefer. I hope you enjoy and be sure to check out the Lost Angeles Times Food section on Sundays; it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the newspaper and the writers work really hard on perfecting these recipes!
Brown Sugar and Maple Cookie Recipe
For the Cookie:
240 grams (2 cups) All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
170 grams (3/4 cup) softened unsalted butter
213 grams (1 cup) packed dark brown sugar (light is fine as well)
78 grams (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
1 large egg, room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Glaze
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Water
1/2 cup packed powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 375F and line 3 cookie sheets (I used two and rotated their use but they are supposed to cook a little extra on the sheets once out of the oven so try to have 3)
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
In a separate, larger bowl, beat together the softened butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the syrup and beat until incorporated then beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well-blended.
Add flour mix and fold in gently until no trace of flour remains. If your dough seems really slack at this point, freeze for 10-20 minutes or until it hardens enough to scoop
Using a tablespoon measuring tool or a tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough onto the sheets with at least 2 inches of space around each cookie. They will spread in the oven.
Bake each sheet for 12 minutes or until golden dark brown. Cool completely on the cookie sheets on wire racks.
In a small bowl, stir together the glaze ingredients. Taste and add additional salt as needed. Once cookies are completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top. Try to wait to eat them until the glaze hardens on the cookies.
So this started as a big mistake on my weeks produce box. Since coming back to Baltimore for a slightly strange school year, I decided to sign up for Hungry Harvest which is a service meant to rescue ugly or excess produce and was started at the University of Maryland! In my first order, I didn’t quite read the fine print while customizing my order and accidentally ordered 30+ pluots…Yikes! While I do love pluots and my boyfriend has grown fond of them, there is no way that the two of us could consume that many without starting to hate them. At the suggestion of Jason, I turned my pluots into a modified tarte tatin and it was delicious to eat! I will concede that this is not a “true” tarte tatin as it does not have a caramelized bottom but I think the maple syrup base adds more flavor than the overwhelmingly sugary taste of caramel. I would like to make some changes to the recipe at some point so if I have time to experiment, I’ll update the recipe.
For this recipe, I ended up making my own puff pastry which I think went rather well for my first attempt. There weren’t as many layers as I was hoping for but I think it was an impressive showing for my first attempt. Pluots also have a high volume of water and they may have soaked the pastry a little too much, retarding the rise of the layers of pastry. Either way, Jason and I have nearly polished off the whole tart in two days which I think is rather impressive! I also remembered after the fact that for a liquid filling, you normally cut a little steam hole in the top of the tart in order to let the moisture escape. Guess who forgot their steam hole? I can’t wait to make this again with a few improvements. I also really enjoyed the process of making puff pastry, with a cold countertop, it wasn’t nearly as daunting as it looks on television. I did have much more time to leisurely make the pastry which I think is key for keeping the butter chilled. The pastry can be made throughout the day between larger tasks and then rested overnight before use. Obviously, if you’re rushed for time, do NOT try to make your own pastry! As Ina Garten says, if you can’t make your own, store-bought is fine. Especially if you’re a novice baker, pastry can be tricky and finicky and you may have more failure than success but I encourage you to keep going, you will get there one of these days!
Pluot Tarte Tatin Recipe
For the Puff Pastry (Paul Hollywood’s Recipe)
Makes double what you need for the tarte tatin, roughly 600 grams
150 grams chilled Bread flour
150 grams chilled All Purpose flour
Pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
2 large eggs
100 milligrams cold water
250 grams chilled unsalted European-style butter
Combine the flours, salt, eggs, and water in a large bowl and gently mix to an even dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth (up to 10 minutes). The dough will feel tight. Shape into a bowl, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge overnight.
Flatten the butter into a rectangle, 15″x 7″ and return it to the fridge, overnight or for at least an hour to harden.
Roll out the dough to 24″x 8″ and place the butter on the dough so it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough.
Fold the exposed dough on the top over the butter and then fold the bottom butter covered third over the top flap. Pinch the edges together to seal and put into a plastic bag to chill for 1 hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a slightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle and fold the bottom and top quarters to meet in the center. Fold this dough in half and chill in a bag for another hour. (This is a book turn! It creates lamination very quickly so if you want more layers, make the next two turns book turns rather than single turns)
Take the dough out and roll it into a rectangle. Fold down the top third of the dough and then fold up the bottom third to make a square of dough. Wrap and chill for another hour. (This is a single turn)
Repeat step 6 and chill overnight. After overnight chill, the pastry can be used at will or frozen up to three months. If frozen, thaw in the fridge the night before.
For the Tarte Tatin (Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Plum Tarte Tatin recipe)
Serves about 8,
600 grams ripe pluots, de-pitted and halved
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
120 milligrams maple syrup
30 milligrams water
320 grams puff pastry, rolled into a circle
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving
Preheat oven to 425F.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Add pluots to the pan with the water and cook for 1 minute. Place them carefully for decorative purposes, a tarte tatin is turned upside down to serve so the base ends up on top.
From a height, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon over the pan and evenly pour the maple syrup over the pluots. (The cinnamon is sprinkled from a height to prevent it being burned in the pan, which is v unpleasant, and it helps it to spread evenly on the pluots)
Place the pastry over the pluots and using a spoon or your hands, press the pastry to the edges and over the pluots. Trim excess pastry and use it to patch any holes. Use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the center to allow steam out.
Bake at the bottom of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed up.
Using GOOD and LONG oven gloves, place a plate over the skillet and flip the tarte out of the pan. If properly baked, it shouldn’t stick at all.
Dish up with ice cream and sprinkle remaining cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
My very first post inspired by these lovely beauties! Yesterday, I was able to formulate a recipe on my own for the first time. I’ve baked loads and have branched out into cooking but I’ve always felt too nervous to try and invent my own recipe but here it is! I’ve been working a lot with sourdough the past few months, it seems like its the theme for my whole experience in quarantine because I’ve been caring for it so freaking much! I had some idea of how much time goes into maintaining your sourdough starter but I hadn’t realized that this time commitment also applies to every single bake you make from your mother or starter. With resources (specifically flour) having been very scarce in some parts of the country recently, I’ve felt that it was a tremendous waste to throw my discard down the sink. I’ve also been working on food sustainability research and this has further underlined the need to commit to less wasteful lives. So with this all in mind, I’ve been trying to make my sourdough discard go further and this is one way to do it.
35 grams malted milk powder (This can be found in the cereal aisle of the grocery store or you can use non-diastatic malt powder if you have it. Do not use diastatic malt powder because it will react with the sour in the discard and your bagels will taste funny)
25 grams granulated sugar
14 grams kosher salt
630 grams All-Purpose flour
For the Water Bath
Medium or Large Saucepan (Use a shallow pan but one large enough to hold all the water)
2 quarts water (8 cups for people like me that have a hard time with measuring things)
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Mix all the ingredients together and knead until smooth and elastic. You may need to add in a small amount of flour if the discard that you are using is more on the liquid side. If you decide to add in flavoring such as fresh or powdered herbs, now is the time to do so.
Roll into a ball and place into a greased bowl. Let prove for 1 hour up to 1 1/2 hours. I test my dough to see if it’s done proofing by sticking my finger in and seeing if the impression stays put or springs back. If it springs back, the dough can continue to prove for a little longer.
Preheat oven to 425F and line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Mix ingredients for the bagel bath and add to a saucepan, bringing it to a boil.
Turn out dough from greased bowl and divide into 16 for small bagels or 12 for larger bagels.
To shape the dough, roll it into a ball. Stick two fingers into flour then poke them into the center of your dough ball. Make sure they come out the other side of the bagel and you can sort of twirl the dough ball around your floured fingers to enlarge the center hole. Alternatively, you can use the older method for bagel shaping where you roll the divided dough sections into logs and you bring the ends together like you are making a wreath. This is slightly more complicated and if you take this method, you may need to practice on a few before it starts to look right. I’ve found the poking and twirling method to be the most fool-proof although the holes are usually smaller by the end.
Place your shaped dough onto parchment and bring the whole sheet over to the stove top. Turn the boiling bagel bath down to a simmer and place your bagels in the water. You should let your bagel sit in the bath for about a minute each, 30 seconds per side. Place only 3-4 bagels in the bath at a time to prevent crowding.
Once bathed, remove the bagels to the parchment and season as you like. I use Everything seasoning but you can really go nuts here, my only recommendation is that you use a dry seasoning.
Once bathed and seasoned, put the bagels into the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. I find that my bagels take anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on how happy my oven is that day.
Let cool on a wire rack and enjoy! I find that they last several days in an airtight container or can be frozen to be enjoyed later.