Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lemon, thyme and sea-salt shortbreads

 Aromatherapy session while baking??? It turns out with right ingredients even that is possible. Just mixing lemon zest, fresh thyme with flour and butter will fill your kitchen with wonderfully refreshing and energizing aromas, which only intensify during baking. Each such session will not only result in relaxation but will also leave you with these flaky, savory and fragrant cookies, sprinkled with crunchy sea salt. They will make perfect addition to dry white or rose wine, beer and cheese. I like them best freshly baked and only slightly cooled. This recipe is from "Savory Baking" by Mary Cech, my new favorite... or at least for a while. Do you have your own version of aromatherapy and baking??? I would love to hear about it.

shopping list:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, I think cold butter works here better
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons water
 coarse sea salt for sprinkling

1. Stir the flour, salt, lemon peel, and thyme together in a medium bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until a coarse, crumbly mixture forms. Blend the lightly beaten egg, egg yolks, and water together. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture for brushing.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the remaining egg mixture and blend together with your hands without kneading the dough together; the dough will look a bit crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough together once or twice, just until it sticks together. Press the dough into a 1-inch-thick disc, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate until firm, about 1/2 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Remove the shortbread dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place it on a floured work surface. Press the dough into a 6-by-5-inch rectangle. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a larger 10-by-7-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Cut the shortbread dough in half, forming two 5-by-7-inch pieces. Using a pizza wheel or sharp paring knife, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Carefully place the shortbreads on the prepared baking sheet leaving a little room between each cookie. Brush the tops with the reserved egg mixture and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on top. Gently press the salt into the surface of each shortbread so it does not fall off.
5. Bake until the shortbreads are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store the shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

                                                                                                    Bon appetit!
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