Sunday, 12 July 2009

Lemon Thyme Shortbread - A Bake Swap

A while ago, I sent a complete stranger a mix CD of my favourite music. The stranger sent me a CD back. I liked some of the music, and thought some of it was weird. I loved getting a random CD in the post though. Welcome to the world of internet swaps!

I hadn't done a swap in ages, when I stumbled across a bake swap. I like baking and I like random stuff. I signed up straight away.

Once I'd sent the email, I began to dread the swap. What if I got someone who is vegan? Or gluten free? Or some other weird allergy/dietary requirement that I can't bothered to work around. (Part of me thinks that if you are seriously limited about what you can eat, you should stick to the mix CDs instead.)

When I received my swap partner's details I was shocked. I googled the details in the email. Woah.

Luckily, she was not on some crazy diet, but living in a flat 5 minutes away from the house I spent the first 18 years of my life in. The randomness just got even better!

She said that she liked citrus flavours, and I've been thinking a lot lately about using herbs in sweet foods. I made an awesome orange and rosemary cake once, so I wanted to do something along those lines. I eventually settled on lemon shortbread with thyme.

This recipe was a bit experimental, and was inspired by several other recipes, with this one by Sophistimom being really helpful. I've changed a few of the quantities, and presented them differently. The biscuits are very crisp and crumbly, with an immediate lemon zing, followed by an aftertaste of refreshing herbs. I would prefer a bit more of an "upfront" herb flavour, but I didn't want to go too overboard on the thyme on this occasion.

Box of Lemon Shortbread with Thyme Glaze

Lemon Shortbread with Thyme

225g unsalted butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
zest of 1.5 lemons (save the other half a lemon for the glaze)
1 tsp salt
2 tsps finely chopped thyme
1 egg
275g plain flour
2 tbsps lemon juice

Turbinado sugar (can use demerara)
4 tbsps icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon
zest 0.5 lemons
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the lemon zest, salt and thyme, combine thoroughly.
  • Separate the egg, saving the white for glazing. Add the yolk into the biscuit dough mix.
  • Add the flour and lemon juice. Once a dough starts forming, knead gently on a floured surface. If the dough is sticky at this point, add more flour, a sprinkle at a time.
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm, and chill for at least an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Roll the dough out to 5mm thick, and cut circles out (I used a 2 inch diameter cutter). Keep gathering the scraps and re-rolling until you have about 40 biscuits.
  • Brush half the biscuits with egg white, and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Other half of the batch stay plain for the moment!
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the biscuits are just turning golden brown at the edges.
  • Cool on the tray for 1 minute, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Once cool, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and thyme to make a glaze.
  • Put half a teaspoon of glaze on each of the plain biscuits, spreading it out with the back of the spoon.
  • Once the glaze is dry, serve with tea.
Lemon Thyme Shortbreads

I am excited to see what I get back in return!


Nora said...

A bake swap - what a great idea! I've never heard of such a thing (even in the CD form) but how nice it must be to get something delicious through the post. And I bet your swapee will be delighted with that shortbread - it looks delicious.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I love everything about that story! And your shortbreads look absolutely fantastic - am loving the idea of adding some thyme. Genius!

Jenny said...

Thanks, I am glad that they appeal to other people as much as they appeal to me!

I haven't got my box yet, although my swap partner emailed to say that she had to work over the weekend so it might be a little late. Fingers crossed it will turn up tomorrow!

Vonnie said...

These look outstanding! Luckily there was only one vegan coeliac in the swap and I made for her because I didn't want anyone else to have to cope with the additional work for something supposed to be fun ;)

Hope yours arrives soon - keep me posted x

Jenny said...

Well done on taking on such a challenge, I know I would have probably given up instead! Still nothing at my end... think my postman must have made off with it!