Lemon Thyme Bars

Lemon Thyme Bars were requested by my daughter for her first care package and I was happy to oblige. It is also the start of settling all of us into the next chapter with her off to college. What an adjustment it has turned out to be. I knew it would be hard, we’re not heartless and we like having her around but we’re not helicopter parents either. Turns out, that doesn’t make any difference whatsoever!

Move in day was quite the event with the heat index at 107F/42C but I was impressed with how the college handled everything with volunteers and plenty of water stations. They even had in the schedule the time parents should say goodbye. During that time they did tell us tales of velcro parents not wanting to leave on the first day. Can you imagine? So of course we teased our daughter asking her to text every five minutes, text after she falls asleep, before she wakes, etc. She was ready for us to leave after that. LOL.

Thankfully, she has settled in and she is doing very well. That doesn’t mean she isn’t happy to receive care packages and home baked goods. When she requested these Lemon Thyme Bars I was surprised to realise I hadn’t made these before. Which is silly as they are very easy to make and a lovely treat.

Technique for Lemon Thyme Bars

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Using your fingers or a pastry fork, blend the butter, flour, sugar and thyme to make a crumbly mix that will stick together when gently pressed.

Press into a baking pan 9″ x 13″. Make sure there aren’t any holes.

Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. It won’t be overly firm while really hot. I wanted the shortbread on the softer side so I only baked it for 15 minutes. The longer you bake at this stage the crispier it will be in the final result.

Whisk the lemon juice and eggs together. In another bowl, mix the sugar and flour together.

Pour the lemon egg mixture into the flour and sugar. Whisk well to remove any lumps. Pour over the shortbread. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. The lemon will set as it cools.

Dust with powdered/confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Of course, I had made these on a Thursday without thinking about the travel time for shipping as it was coming up on a holiday weekend. Turns out, our daughter is considered in the middle of nowhere according to the Post Office. Fortunately, they arrived several days later in good condition. I’ll have to do my baking at the beginning of the week from now on.

Lemon Thyme Bars

The flavours of summer in a delicous baked treat

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemon Thyme Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2-4 tsp fresh, chopped thyme

Lemon Mixture

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Finishing

  • powdered sugar to dust over bars

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Shortbread

  1. Using your fingers or a pastry fork, blend the shortbread ingredients together until it becomes crumbly but will stick together when gently pressed.

  2. Press into the baking pan (9" x 13") making sure there aren't any holes. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. The less you bake, the softer the shortbread will be when the bars are cooled.

Lemon Mixture

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Pour the lemon mixture into the dry ingredients. Whisk until there are no more lumps.

  2. Pour the mixture over the shortbread and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking pan. Dust with the powdered sugar to serve.

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Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

Unlike these Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes I made, blogging consistently the first few months of the year doesn’t seem to be my jam! With the craziness of tax season and the inevitable germ fest I get caught up in, life just gets nutty and I always seem behind. I realised it had gotten bad when I had only managed one journal entry for this month in my bullet journal.

I had this past Sunday off and it was time for grooving to good music and bake in the kitchen. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was wonderful to take a break from the stress and just enjoy myself. On deck was the Fruit Cake that my husband loves. But I wanted to make another treat for him. He loves Jaffa Cakes and it’s one the of treats his mum packs when she visits. I get the McCoys and he gets Jaffa Cakes, it’s lovely! His mum had clipped a recipe for Jaffa Cakes from the iNews paper for us. I made a few adjustments to the recipe because I wanted to use blood oranges and it calls for 40g of butter, which is great except it said to set aside 30ml for the recipe and use the remainder for greasing the muffin tin. There wasn’t any extra butter so I used spray oil.

Technique for Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes:

This is not a difficult recipe to make but it is time consuming so it’s a perfect weekend bake.

The Jelly:

Such a gorgeous red.

Squeeze the two oranges and set aside. Combine the water, sugar and orange peel in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liquid has reduced about 50%. This will take 10 or 15 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a bowl.

Add the gelatin powder and stir until fully incorporated. Make sure the syrup is still quite warm. I found it cooled off too quickly and didn’t incorporate fully. It still worked but at the end the centre was more set than the edges. So make sure you can keep it warm enough.

Pour then orange juice into the syrup and mix well.

Line a 18cm/8in square pan with cling film and strain the mixture into the pan.

Chill in the fridge for at least two hours so it sets properly.

Baking the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Brown the butter in a small saucepan.

This part can be tricky. The butter can quickly go from a golden colour to full on brown. Don’t panic, as long as it doesn’t taste burnt and keeps the toasted, nutty flavour. Let the butter cool while getting the other ingredients together.

Sift the sugar and flour together.

Using a whisk, incorporate the almond flour and orange zest into the flour and sugar.

Lightly beat the egg whites. Add that along with the salt and butter. Mix well with the whisk.

Spoon the batter into a 12 hole muffin tin that has been lightly greased. Bake 9-12 minutes until golden round the edges and is springy to the touch. Cool completely before turning the cakes out.

Place the jelly with the cling film on the counter and using a 4cm/1 1/2in cookie cutter. Place the cut jelly onto the centre of each cake.

Melt the chocolate and spoon it over the top of the cakes.

Let the chocolate set and enjoy! The only bad thing about this recipe is that it only makes 12 cakes!

Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

A traditional recipe with a twist.  

Course Dessert
Cuisine English
Keyword Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 12 minutes
Servings 12
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Blood Orange Jelly

  • 60 grams caster sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • orange zest from 1 blood orange
  • 1 packet powdered gelatine
  • 100 ml blood orange juice

Cake

  • 40 grams browned butter
  • 60 grams icing/powdered sugar
  • 20 grams all purpose flour
  • 40 grams ground almonds or almond flour
  • orange zest from 1 blood orange
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • a pinch of salt

Chocolate to top the cake

  • 120 grams dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

Blood Orange Jelly

  1. Bring the water, sugar and orange zest to a boil.  Simmer until the liquid has reduced 50%.  Takes about 10-15 minutes.  

  2. Strain the syrup into a bowl and add the gelatine.  Mix until dissolved.  Add the blood orange juice.  Line a 18cm/8 in square pan with cling film.  Strain the mixture into the pan.  Chill for 2 hours.  

Making the cake

  1. Preheat the oven 190C/375F.

    Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

  2. Brown the butter and let cool.

  3. Sift the sugar and flour together.  Whisk in the almond flour and orange zest. Add the egg whites, salt and browned butter.  Using the whisk, incorporate the ingredients well.  

  4. Spoon the batter evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

  5. Bake 9-12 minutes until the edges are golden and the sponge is springy to the touch.  Allow to cool completely before turning out of the muffin tin.

Assembling the Blood Orange Jaffa Cakes

  1. Using the 4cm/1 1/2in cookie cutter, cut out the jelly and place on the cakes. Melt the chocolate and spoon over the cakes.  Let set and serve.  

Eggnog Cookies

I have an obsession.  I think my husband might stage an intervention.  I get started and I can’t stop, just go down the rabbit hole.  What makes me lose track of time so quickly?  Genealogy.  It’s a time sucking, fascinating hobby.  I love the history and the detective work but it’s also been wonderful finding relatives.  Not the distant relatives, though that is fun as well, but actual second cousins.  Which is just fabulous.  I connected with three in the UK and one in Australia.  I love it.  🙂

I didn’t get as much baking over the holidays as I would have liked but my daughter was mentioning she had eggnog cupcakes and I thought ooh, I want to make cookies with eggnog.  I searched round on the internet for some ideas.  I found a recipe on allrecipes that I could change up a bit and that was easy to whip up.

I used the hand mixer for this as you don’t want to over mix the ingredients.  In a medium bowl add 3/4 cup/12oz of butter softened, a cup/8oz of white sugar, and 1/4 cup/2oz of brown sugar.

eggnog-cookies-1-2017

Cream the ingredients together until it is light and fluffy.  Add 2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup/4oz of eggnog, and a teaspoon of spiced rum.  Mix at medium speed until well blended.

eggnog-cookies-3-2017

In a separate bowl blend together 2 1/4 cups/18oz of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Gradually add it to the mixing bowl.  Don’t over mix the cookie dough, just mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated in.

eggnog-cookies-4-2017

Spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet that has not been greased.  About a teaspoon size.  Bake at 300F/150C until golden brown.  20-25 minutes depending on your oven.  While this is baking mix equal parts spiced rum and milk then add powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want for the glaze.

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When the cookies come out of the oven, drizzle the cookies with the glaze.  Then all you have to do is enjoy!

 

Rhubarb Ginger Tart

As I suspected I was spoilt for Mother’s Day.   Saturday night they made me a wonderful meal of tapas from around the world.  My husband was thinking light and Spanish but the kids had other ideas!  My husband made a potato and swiss chard souffle and it was accompanied by mushrooms cooked in butter, chicken satay, and spring rolls.  Delicious all of it!  To finish off the meal they made me a pavlova which was decorated by mangoes spelling out MUM.  That was my daughter’s idea. 🙂

For the gift I was presented with the largest gift bag.  So either it was going to be a large gift or a small gift with lots of packaging.  After removing about a year’s supply of tissue paper I found a new tripod.  A much more sturdy tripod.  The other one, while a major help, would wobble and it made us nervous my good camera would tip over.  The lovely weekend was finished off by playing games with the kids.  My favourite way to hang out with them.  🙂

I did manage to fit in some baking.  Our rhubarb isn’t quite ready but the co-op had some so I thought I’d do a treat for our kids.  My son really loves rhubarb so I couldn’t resist.  For the pastry I used the same recipe as my apple pie.  Only make one batch as you would for a pie without a cover.

Rhubarb ginger tart 1 2015

I love fresh ginger in jams and I thought it would be great with the rhubarb.  I had three stalks of rhubarb for this recipe.  Slice the rhubarb in small slices so it cooks down faster.

Rhubarb ginger tart 2 2015

Add a tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice and begin to simmer.  If the rhubarb is on the dry side just add a bit of water while it simmers.  Grate a piece of ginger about an inch/2.5cm square.  This needs to be finely grated so it incorporates fully.

Rhubarb ginger tart 3 2015

As the fruit softens and becomes jam like add 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  The real kind.  Do you know there was a poll done and a large percent prefers the fake stuff?  Shows how sad the state of our food has become.  Allow it to cook some more and add more maple syrup if needed.  While this is cooking preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Spoon the mixture into the pastry.

Rhubarb ginger tart 4 2015Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is flaky.  Let them cool completely so you don’t risk burning yourself.

Rhubarb ginger tart 5 2015The kids loved these.  Our son says he could eat rhubarb all the time so it was a fun treat.  And on a hot day a quick thing to bake without bringing the kitchen to tropical temps!