Every now and then I take a break from the blog and focus in on my craft. I've spent the last couple of months reading other people's blogs, considering their recipes, examining their photos, and trying out new things myself - both with the camera and in the kitchen. I've been working with my new light box, playing with props and trying to set up scenes for my food. I've also been trying new recipes.
My New Year's Resolution for this year was to spend more time baking. I have always fallen into that category of baker who only does anything for the holiday season at the end of the year. I was so disappointed with so many of the recipes I tried out last year that I have been trying to bake something every couple of weeks to keep in practice.
I've found some good recipes in The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook - mostly cookies. I've tried a couple their recipes with consistent success. My first Snickerdoodle was their recipe. The book also has a very nice meringue-based almond crunch cookie. And this weekend, I found my favorite one to date - Lavender Shortbread.
This is a light cookie with a nice crumb and a subtle floral flavor that lingers in the mouth. It also smells incredible when baking in the oven. Their recipe takes the simple sugar-butter-flour combination and gently moves it into a different space, and not just from the presence of lavender. This recipe uses powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar and doesn't require time to chill. It also doesn't require rolling and cutting. The dough comes together quickly with a little hand-mixing, and you get perfect little cookies with your cookie scoop and a little press.
For these cookies you will need:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 confectioners sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender - I had trouble finding this so I bought a lavender plant and dried the leaves in my oven at 350 for just about five minutes or so
Start by creaming the butter with the salt and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Then add the sugar and beat at low speed until it is again smooth and creamy. Add the flour in thirds, mixing each third until well-blended. The dough will be crumbly at this point. Add the lavender, roll up your sleeves and gently work the dough by hand until it comes together.
And, no chilling or rolling required. Pull out that cookie scoop and drop the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the scoops of dough flat with a cookie stamp or a fork. Bake in the lower third of your oven at 350 until the edges turn a light golden brown. The recipe says this should take 8-10 minutes. In my oven, it took 12.
These aren't as crisp and flaky as the classic shortbread I make for the holidays. These cookies are soft and sweet and slightly salty. They go particularly well with coffee, which is how I enjoyed mine.