November has arrived, which means the approach of autumn's end. Here in Kansas the leaves have just reached their peak and are now beginning to fall until the trees are bare and dormant for winter. The last farmer’s market of the season was this past Saturday, on a chilly, windy, sunny morning. Now thoughts turn from tricks and treats to the ultimate celebration of the season in Thanksgiving.
However, before I start to post about
day of thankfulness and feasting, I wanted to share a wonderful book that
honors all that autumn offers. I discovered Country
Harvest: A Celebration of Autumn by and Linda
Burgess on the wonderful blog, Months of Edible Celebrations. When I saw the post last month, I knew I had to find the
Country Harvest was published by Prentice Hall Press in 1990 and has a distinct British feel. It is full of beautiful seasonal images and a unique collection of recipes and tips for preserving the late summer/early autumn harvest. There are recipes for jams, jellies, chutneys, conserves, vinegars, and sauces for the pantry, plus breads, pies, cookies and cakes to enjoy now, with cordials, country wines, and teas to go with them. Readers can also learn how to preserve late-summer flowers, ornamental gourds, leaves, seedheads, and herbs. If autumn is your favorite season, this book belongs on your shelf.
I chose to make the Nutty Shortbread recipe because it sounded perfect served with a cup of tea on a chilly autumn afternoon. They were perfect—slightly sweet and full of nutty goodness.
The recipe called for walnuts or hazelnuts. I though pecans would work well, too. As luck would have it, I didn't have enough pecans or walnuts for the recipe, so I combined the two and it worked very well. Also, instead of baking the shortbread in a one-pound loaf pan as the recipe recommended, I used my smallest (9-inch) springform pan. The result was wedges of shortbread instead of strips.
I’m looking forward to tea with nutty shortbread cookies to bring autumn's afternoons to a relaxing and delicious end.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 cup pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts (or a mixture), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 1-pound (8.5” x 4.5”) loaf pan or a 9-inch springform pan. (I used cooking spray.) Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Add in the flour mixture and chopped nuts, mixing until combined. The mixture will look crumbly, like sand, but when you squeeze a handful, it will hold together.
Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes depending on your pan size. Remove from the oven and sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife (I used the sharp edge of a bench scraper), mark the baked shortbread into strips or wedges. Leave the shortbread in the pan until completely cooled, then remove and finish cutting the shortbread into individual cookies.