Lemon and thyme is one of those food matches made in heaven, like tomatoes and basil or chocolate and peanut butter (although my mom would disagree about the last one). It was only natural, then, that while I was contemplating a use for the last of some lemons given to us last Thanksgiving by my grandmother, I thought of thyme as well.
What was a little less natural (or so one might think) was putting them together in the form of shortbread, since I have a self-professed fear of putting savory with sweet when it comes to desserts. However, I'd been dreaming about the combination for a few days, and I had had a lovely experience with lavender in cookies last summer, so I decided that I would give it a go as long as there was thyme left in the garden. Hark! There was.
Since it was obviously meant to be, I decided that I had better get on with it and choose a recipe. I decided to use Deb's ratios as a rough base to fit my own flavors to, which yielded a cookie that was a little more delicate than the traditional shortbread, but just as delicious. The sunny citrus flavors of lemon worked so nicely with peppery thyme and a background of sweet, buttery shortbread.
As for classification, this falls somewhere between my throw-it-all-in oatmeal cookies and the delicate buckwheat ones of last week. I wouldn't be afraid to tinker with it a little, but baby the dough for best results when you're cutting it.
I opted to go for fingers in the style of those packaged shortbreads you get in Britain, but feel free to use a cookie cutter or cut them into squares. The pricks I made on the surface of the dough with a fork were solely for aesthetic appeal but didn't really show up once it was baked, unfortunately. I only just poked the surface, though, so press really deeply if you want those cute little prick marks.
Of course, since I'm me, there was some whole grain flour in it--my personal favorite of oat flour. Feel free to swap it for more all-purpose flour if that's how you roll, but I'd caution against all oat since the lack of gluten would stop the dough from rolling out well.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
zest and juice of a lemon
2-3 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1/3 cup natural cane or granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
generous 1/2 cup rolled oats (to make 1/2 cup oat flour)
1. Combine the butter with the lemon zest and thyme in a large bowl until well mixed. Beat in the sugar until pale and fluffy.
2. Blend the oats as finely as you can in a coffee grinder or food processor. Add to the bowl along with the all-purpose flour and mix to combine with the butter and sugar, adding the lemon juice as needed to help bring the dough together (I used nearly all of mine).
3. Transfer the dough to the bottom of a gallon ziplock bag. Fold the bag in half, then press the dough outwards so it takes up half of the bag. Chill in the freezer for at least an hour or in the fridge for at least two.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dough from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut it into fifteen fingers by cutting it into thirds horizontally, then turning each third horizontal and cutting it into five more pieces.
5. Bake on a prepared baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until just barely browned at the edges. Cool on a wire rack; makes 15 fingers.