Spring Sweets: Rosemary Caraway Shortbread, Lemon Thyme Bars, Bay Leaf Pound Cake / by Julie Schumacher

Today we've got the second set of sweetly unusual pairings, many of which bring some herbal goodness into unexpected places. 20140325_forth-72

Lemon Thyme Bars

These lemon bars from D.M.R Fine Foods use seven eggs for the custard-y layer. SEVEN eggs. That is awesome. And it required another glaze, which I told you threw me for a loop with those donuts.  And there wasn't a moment making these, until I plated them, that I didn't think I was royally screwing something up. But whatever I did, these were damn good. The interplay of the thyme in the shortbread crust and the one-two citrus punch of the lemon layer and the glaze were worth it, and despite my anxiety, they weren't hard to make. Lots of whisking which is a favorite baking activity. Everything feels official when you whisk. Getting them out of the pan meant sacrificing the edges for clean cuts, which was worth it as the glaze dripped down over the edges in a perfectly unplanned pretty. They pop a lemon punch so a smaller cut makes sense here (and makes losing the perimeter less of a thing).


Rosemary Caraway Shortbread


I like to have at least one recipe I've baked successfully on the menu so I'm not totally adrift and in the wild the day before (or the morning of) an event. A few months back we got our Turntable Kitchen pairing and it included a healthy heaping of caraway seeds for a pizza sauce that is so.good. (My very first adventure with caraway was in 2010 on the island of Viðey in Iceland). Very shortly after the pizza was devoured, Bon Apetit posted a rosemary and toasted caraway seed shortbread. I've made it a few times. Shortbread is easy and feels fancy, a winning combination in my book. I've said I love baking with rosemary before and the coarse sugar on top is a added twist of yum. Garnishing it with a bit of extra rosemary is a nice touch, too.

One tip: Chopping toasted caraway seeds is an exercise in madness. They fly out from under the knife as if escaping certain doom, which they kind of are. I found covering the pile with a paper towel and cutting through it helped prevent their escape without making them rosemary, caraway, and paper towel shortbread.


Bay Leaf Pound Cake


When our dear Natalie sent in her intern application an eye-catcher detail for me was a shared love of 101 Cookbooks, the masterful site by Heidi Swanson. Natalie mentioned frequenting it, like I do, for savories and sweets alike. So it wasn't a surprise that she selected a bay leaf pound cake (bay leaf!) with an orange glaze to bake.


Next week, Kelly & Natalie will be sharing the savory pairings they dreamed up.