lemon zest shortbread
September 29, 2010 § 1 Comment
Earlier today, as I drove around running errands, I found myself marveling at the weather. It was warm, with a clear blue sky dotted by a few big puffy clouds. What more could a person ask for, right? And then I looked down at the temperature display on my car dashboard and saw 96°. So, it’s obvious how badly my head has been messed with after the record-breaking ridiculousness earlier this week. I now find 96° a week into autumn completely acceptable. In fact, compared to a few days ago, it felt enjoyable outside today. It’s a travesty, I tell ya. Though, I will admit, I knew this would happen; I knew it.
Living in southern California, I should know better than to expect golden leaves or the privilege of wearing, oh I don’t know, socks (let alone a scarf) when September and October roll around, but every year I get my hopes up nonetheless, and every year I’m let down. How magical it would be to live somewhere that has real seasons! The hot cold hard fact is, however, that autumn just doesn’t exist here. And that is so depressing.*
Anyway, life can’t just stop because it’s nearly one hundred degrees outside, thereby rendering it impossible to enjoy warm apple cider, mittens, or stews. I have to move on, accept defeat the days and their accompanying weather for what they are, and learn to like it. But believe me when I tell you I’d rather be jumping into piles of leaves in my (nonexistent) front yard. Wouldn’t that be nice?
And now on to lemon shortbread, which I feel kind of bridges the gap between summer with it’s bright citrus note, and fall with it’s cozy, um, shortbreadedness (I know, that’s not a word, but you know what I mean). Yes, this lemon shortbread exists in summer/fall purgatory where it waits to go to winter, where all true citrus baked goods belong. But in the meantime, it has to suffer with the rest of us.
*It is depressing to me, anyway. I know there are a lot of people who love California exactly for the reasons I can’t stand it, weather-wise.
Lemon Zest Shortbread
Just a note: I halved this recipe before realizing it needed to be pressed into a pan with removable bottom. Oops. Therefore, I ended up with cookies thinner than they should have been, but it didn’t effect the taste, they were still really good. They took about 40 minutes in the oven this way.
Though you could tell the lemon was in there, these weren’t too lemony at all, but rather just delicately flavored with lemon — a hint of lemon, I should say. I might double the zest next time, to really make it stand out.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into
pieces, at room temperature
Preheat an oven to 325°F.
In a food processor, combine the flour, the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the confectioners sugar, lemon zest and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and process just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Don’t over mix it. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gather it into a rough ball.
Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan or tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the tines of a fork around the edge to form a decorative border, and then pierce the surface every 2 inches with the fork. Sprinkle the surface with the 1 Tbs. granulated sugar.
Bake the shortbread until lightly golden at the edges and the center is firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Using a long, sharp knife, score the shortbread into thin wedges. Be careful! I’m not sure if it was just because my cookies were very thin due to halving the recipe, but they were very crumbly when I tried to cut them, so my advice is to take it slow when cutting. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. Store in layers, separated by waxed paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes 12 to 16 cookies.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.