Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Practicing Patience

Let's take a step away from summer squash ideas and enter the realm of patience. Ahhh, something I've learned is absolutely necessary in the midst of a career change. Since June, I've been waiting. Waiting for some test dates to arrive, waiting for my unemployment appeal (ugh don't ask), and then waiting some more for application deadlines. Let's be honest though, I have nothing to complain about. I've decided to take this free time and put it to work.

This weekend I managed to make it down South and visited some great friends in Santa Monica. Saturday morning we found ourselves in line at Huckleberry, a brunch spot just off Wilshire. With a beautiful morning to just sit around and chat, I found myself biting into homemade shortbread. Definitely not part of my diet plan, but I was most definitely inspired!

Here's my rendition of shortbread infused with some local Toyon honey (very dark, rich honey). Shortbread has very few ingredients, but there are some important steps that seem to take up the day - which was just what I needed - to kill some time.

Shortbread infused with local honey
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dark, rich honey variety
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling the top of the shortbread

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter a 12-by-8-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on long sides. Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy on medium speed, 3 to 4 minutes. Add confectioner’s sugar and honey; continue to beat until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed, scraping down sides occasionally, until just incorporated. (It should have the consistency of soft cookie dough)

Using a small offset spatula, evenly spread dough in prepared baking sheet. Chill in the freezer or refrigerator until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.

Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until shortbread is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and immediately sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. The more sugar on top, the better! While still hot, use a large knife to cut shortbread into 4-by-1-inch pieces. Cool completely in the pan. Shortbread can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.