2012/04/30

On the shoulders of those before us (TWD Baking w/ Julia: Hungarian Shortbread)

Peeks out from around the corner.

Waves "hi".

Howdy!

I am tickled pink to be one of the TWD hosts this time around, along with Lynette of 1 Small Kitchen. This week's TWD selection is Gale Gand's Hungarian shortbread - a delightfully delicious treat that boasts a somewhat unconventional preparation method.




The last few days have been a bit introspective for me.

It's that time of the year when retirees start bidding adieu at work and phasing their way on to the next chapter of life. I work for a company where people stay for a very long time. It's not uncommon for someone to have been there 30 or even 40 years. Since I have been with my current employer for almost 19 years, I have known some of these people a very long time.


On Friday night, I attended a going away party for the woman who had mentored me throughout most of my career. As the group regurgitated her 30 year career with the company, individuals took turns highlighting aspects of her career and work ethic that were cause for both laughter and admiration.


She was the type of woman who broke the glass ceiling in a man-dominant industry at a time when it wasn't fashionable to do so. And with each glass-breaking episode, she dragged a group of her employees along with her - sometimes kicking and screaming. Other times, we just followed along. Not quite knowing where the ride would take us, but knowing that it was going to be a ride worth taking.

Her constant drive for precision and refusal to accept the status quo made me a much better employee - even though there were many days, nights and weekends when I thought it was truly going to be the death of me. I am sure there were many times when she also thought I was going to be the death of her - I am sure I added to her gray hair count on more than one occasion.

She instilled in us a sense of "can" and was diligent in her efforts to help us grow, learn and blossom.


When I was working part time, had two very young children and was trying to finish up my college degree, she put up with my crazy schedule so that I could get those last few classes in and finish up my degree.

Later, when I reached the point in my career where it was time to take the leap to the next level, she nudged me out of the nest - and straight into a position that most people thought I was absolutely crazy for taking. She made me believe that I, a 20-something year old pup, could handle managing a group of hardened men who were twice my age. I scaped my knees on more than one occasion during those years. And I also grew up a lot. More than I ever planned on. I realized that I could dig far deeper within myself than I or anyone else believed that I could.

But she was right. I could do it. Some of my proudest career moments were during those years out in the plant.

And when I was finally worn down enough that I needed to move in a different direction, she helped me ease my way back into the Corporate side of things. I was very fortunate, indeed.


At one point during the evening, one of my co-workers called out the names of each person in the room who had been mentored by this individual. Over half of the room was named. It was a poignant moment.

In our lives, there are people who influence what we do, where we go and how we go about doing whatever it is that we do. We seek to learn from them and emulate those behaviors which make them successful in the hopes that we, too, may also achieve that trait or accomplish some far-off goal.

In the professional world, that person may be a boss or another professional. In our personal world, it may be a relative, a friend or some other person who was gained our respect.


And in other areas, we may choose to find some other sources of inspiration. Those who have paved the way before us and shown us that it "can" be done.

As I work my way through Baking with Julia, I find that I am grateful for the efforts of the Julia's and Dorie's and Nick's and Gale's of the world. Each of who has taken risks and has earned the respect of their communities and has left behind a legacy that those who are so inclined can follow.

Life is not easy. While there are times, when it is enjoyable to set out and brave a new trail, it is nice to know that we don't always have to forge a new path because so many before us have created roadways and highways that make the journey a little easier.


Now on to the shortbread...

Here are my baking notes:

I divided my dough into four balls and grated it into two 8" pans. Since rhubarb is a few weeks away from being in season, I pulled a couple of jars of homemade preserves from my pantry that needed to get used up. In one pan, I spread the dough with Meyer lemon marmalade. In the second pan, I used strawberry-rhubarb jam.


Other than that, the only change-up I made was to add a couple of teaspoons of lemon powder. This dough seemed to scream for a little something extra...

One pan was cut into wedges, while the other pan was divided into bars.

This was a lovely recipe that was very friendly to adaptations. Smitten Kitchen posted a raspberry version here back in 2007.

Thank you for baking along this week! I can't wait to see every one's creations.

Peace out.



Hungarian Shortbread
Adapted from Baking with Julia

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons lemon powder (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup fruit jam or preserves, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon powder & salt. Set aside. 

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at a high speed (follow the manufacturers recommended settings) until the butter is pale and fluffy - be sure to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, then the sugar and beat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is light. Reduce the speed mixer to low and add the dry ingredients - only mix until the ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and place into the freezer. Freeze for 30-40 minutes - until dough is firm. 

Center a rack in the oven. Preheat oven to 350F.

Remove one ball from the oven. Using a grater with large holes, grate the first ball into a 9" x 12" baking pan (I used two 8"rounds). Gently pat dough down into bottom of pan - just enough to get in the corners and to cover the bottom. Spread with the jam. Grate the second ball of dough on top - making sure it is distributed evenly. Bake the shortbread for ~40 minutes until the shortbread is lightly golden and should be somewhat firm.

Remove pan from oven. As soon as pan is removed from oven, sift confectioners sugar over top of the warm shortbread. Cool to room temperature on the rack. When cool, cut shortbread into squares or bars.

Store covered, at room temperature.

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie. Head on over to this week's LYL to see what everyone else's creations.

80 comments:

  1. Nice story Cher! Thanks for hosting! I loved this recipe

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think I've ever had a real mentor at any of my jobs. To find a good one is very special. Your shortbread looks yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoyed reading your story. The lemon marmalade sounds wonderful. Thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a nice story! A good mentor is irreplaceable. Thanks for sharing and for hosting! This was a really delicious recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice post :-) While I haven't had a mentor per se, I've been lucky to have great bosses who have remained my friends after we each left the companies we worked for, so I understand where you're coming from.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now I'm curious what industry you are in? I'm also in a male-dominated field. Anyway, great story and lovely shortbread!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Now I'm curious what industry you are in? I'm also in a male-dominated field. Anyway, great story and lovely shortbread!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very nicely done, Cher! Thanks so much for hosting - can I tell people I know you? LOL! We really enjoyed this one.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing your story! The meyer lemon marmalade sounds delicious - look forward to checking out that recipe too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good job Cher and thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Those kinds of managers/mentors are very rare these days. It's wonderful that you had one, and that you were able to celebrate her career with her. (I've had exactly one mentor in my career, and that was so many years ago.)

    I thought the shortbread was absolutely wonderful - thanks for hosting this week. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. That was a great story. I love how you intertwined it with your photos. It made me think all the times my mind wanders while baking. To good times and happiness. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your cookies look beautiful and I bet the lemon powder was delicious in them. Really enjoyed your story, Cher, and what a beautiful tribute to your mentor. I hope she gets to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I forgot to thank you for hosting! Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love the substitutions every one's been going for... meyer lemon.. yum yum...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wish I had such a wise mentor, I made half the recipe in a springform pan.

    Thanks for hosting

    Ulrike @K├╝chenlatein

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a great story! So glad that you have had someone so inspirational in your life. Your shortbread look great - I liked this one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great choice. We loved it!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a very moving post, Cher. I wanted to thank you very much for hosting this week and let you know that I enjoyed your story tremendously. I wish we all could have great mentors in our lives ...

    Take care and enjoy the rest of the week!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great post!!!
    Your shortbread looks lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  21. thanks for hosting! it was a lovely little treat!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wonderful writing - great pictures - delicious shortbread: I enjoyed every minute on your blog.
    Greetings from Switzerland and thank you for hosting.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I was so excited to see that you were hosting, Cher!!! As always, your post is thought provoking and your bars look wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This was awesome - I was a little worried about the melting icing sugar into the top of the baked bar but it was sooooo good. My colleagues raved!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Lovely story Cher. Thanks for being my co-host. Your shortbread looks awesome and I loved the idea of adding some lemon flavor to the dough. Great pix too!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Nice story. I like how you told it while also showing pictures of the cake making process. And beautiful cake. Thanks for hosting.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Lovely recipe. Thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Aww, that really is an awesome story. I knew you were a tough chick!! Hooray!!! : ) Your shortbread looks awesome - just the thing with a nice of coffee.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Lovely post. We can all use a good mentor in our lives and we're luckier yet, if we have the talent and opportunity to be a mentor.

    Your flavors sound wonderful. I'm waiting for my shortbread to come out of the oven (any minute now.)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you for sharing your story Cher. I enjoyed reading it and thinking about my own experiences in the workplace.

    Your homemade jams sound wonderful. Good idea to make the shortbread in round pans. That means the cutter/baker gets to eat the odd corners when serving up, right? We loved this shortbread. I picked blueberry-peach jam for mine.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Very nice post, mentors are such an important part of life and it sounds like you had an amazing one. How lucky for you!! The shortbread looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I have tears in my eyes. Poinent post...Lovely shortbread.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Your post this week is a lovely tribute to your mentor. People like that in our lives deserve a huge shout out.
    That Meyer lemon maramalade sounds like the perfect filling, especially with the added lemon powder! Thanks for hosting this week. See you Friday.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This post was beautifully written. Thanks so much. And thank you for hosting this week. The shortbread looks like it turned out great!

    ReplyDelete
  35. What a lovely post! That sounds like a wonderful event. And the shortbread turned out well, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. you totally did a great job hosting this week! your bars look fabulous Cher!

    Alice @ http://acookingmizer.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. Cher, Congrats on hosting this week! Your bars look fabulous! I also used my jam from last summer…I happened to have a jar of Strawberry Rhubarb in my pantry! Great Job!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for hosting! Your shortbread bars look great!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Great job hosting- love the pictures. That's been my greatest challenge so far- taking decent photos of my work.

    ReplyDelete
  40. What a beautiful post! :) Thanks for hosting and sharing such a lovely story! Your shortbread looks delicious! :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Cher, What a lovely, lovey story and testamonial to your Boss and to Dorie and Julia, as well. So well said. You are most fortunate to have had a Mentor of value but, and I am sure she would agree, she was lucky to have a willing, eager, smart, and hardworking Mentor-ee (I made up that word). I have always told my college students that if they get into a job or position where their boss is not "for" them, get out, abandon ship, quit, move on, get another job. You have to have someone above you pulling for ya' and on your side. Now, you will do that for others, I'm sure. And, by the way, nice shortbread.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Cher, thank you for posting my link!!!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Always enjoy your stories. Thanks for hosting, what a yummy treat!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thank you for hosting this month Cher! What a decedent recipe but oh so tasty. Loved your story too. You have a fabulous way with words and write wonderfully well. Nice shortbread my dear and fun recipe to make.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Beautiful post! It made me think back to a mentor of mine and how blessed I was to have known him. Thanks for hosting this week.

    ReplyDelete
  46. your mentor left you and many others with a wonderful legacy! thanks for sharing this, and for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Yes, I agree yummy shortbread. However, it was more interesting to look at your process shots while reading the story about your mentor and your relationship with her. This is what I call a great analogy :)
    Thanks for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Your bars are lovely and I love the idea of splitting it into two pans! Also, I loved your post. Thank you for hosting!

    ReplyDelete
  49. looks great! fun recipe to host- thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Such a beautiful post with such a tribute not only to your co-worker mentor, and to great bakers who go before us and share their talents, but also to you. This post says lots about you too. Nicely done--the writing and the baking/photos. Your "extras" sound lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Great blog post, and thanks for hosting. I'm so glad you posted early as it got me motivated to make the recipe. I wasn't going to until I read your blog! Your's looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hey...forgot to thank you for hosting, so THANKS!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Great hosting post this month, Cher!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thanks for hosting and sharing that wonderful story. It sounds like she truly will be missed!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Great post! Thanks for hosting, I think the lemon idea sounds wonderful, it looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  56. What a touching story. You are a great writer.

    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  57. Poignant post! I've had a couple of these people in my life and it feels strangely empty when they move on or leave. You've done a great job capturing the effect and influence they've had on others and honouring this. Nice work Cher!
    Your shortbread is pretty impressive too!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Cher, thanks for being so honest about what you've experienced! It is amazing the things we can accomplish when someone else is there to help push you in directions you never thought possible. Lovely Hungarian Shortbread, too. Thanks for hosting! I look forward to many more posts from you:) All the best!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Very nice story--and shortbread. Thanks for hosting.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Great post -- mentoring is tough, but having someone there to support you is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  61. You are lucky to have a mentor. No wonder you stayed at your workplace for so long. I hope you are continuing the tradition. Nice post.

    ReplyDelete
  62. The things we think about when we cook. That's really what it's about, isn't it. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thank you for sharing that story Cher. You are lucky to have such an amazing mentor in your life,, she sounds like a very special person.
    I have never tried hungarian short bread but it looks like a real treat

    ReplyDelete
  64. What a great post. You are so lucky to have such a wonderful mentor, and she so is lucky to have you to work with. It's so important to step back and think about what matters sometimes. Your shortbread came out beautifully - both flavors of jam sound excellent.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Great post, Cher. It's important to honour our mentors and you did so beautifully.

    We loved this recipe (though we're extremely late to the party this time 'round). Rhubarb here has just taken off, luckily, so we were able to make the jam. Love the tartness with the sweetness of the dough. Your Meyer lemon and strawberry-rhubarb sound grand, too.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Absolutely wonderful post. Thanks for sharing past and present! Love baking with you into the future.
    Catherine at www.praycookblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  67. Loved, loved, loved these...great choice. We will make these again with various fillings...I love recipes that seem endless like this. Yours turned out beautifully!

    ReplyDelete
  68. I feel as if I've been sitting in your kitchen chatting while we baked together. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thank you for sharing your story. You have been very fortunate to have such an amazing advocate! Your shortbread turned out beautiful. Thanks for hosting this week.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Cher- Great story and yummy selection. Thank- you.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Thanks for sharing your reflection and hosting this week! It was a refreshing read.

    ReplyDelete
  72. a lovely tribute to your mentor...i hope everyone has someone who can teach, inspire and encourage. and thanks for hosting. we really enjoyed this recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Loved the sharing, Cher! And I am so grateful you have commented that there once was a date of May 8th for this post, I feel a little less foolish posting today!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Love this post Cher and your shortbread;-)

    ReplyDelete
  75. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing...and your shortbread looks heavenly.

    ReplyDelete
  76. That was a wonderful post, it is inspiring to hear mentor stories and experiences like yours. The shortbread looks beautiful, love the idea of the Meyer lemons!

    ReplyDelete

Hi - Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you!

Due to the high number of weirdo SPAM comments I have been receiving, I have turned comment moderation back on for the time being... Comments may show a slight delay.