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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.