Going Against the Grain: Salted Lemon Thyme Shortbread for #LeftoversClub

by kellybakes in ,

salted lemon thyme shortbread.jpg

Admittedly, I'm stubborn. I don't like doing things the easy way. I take on too much. Worse still, I rarely cut myself slack. I realize this isn't healthy, nor is it wise, but it's a part of who I'm inclined to be and something I need to learn to change. Yesterday was a great day to start.


13 years ago, a gorgeous orange long-haired cat sauntered up to my deck and rubbed her beautiful face against my shins, marking me as hers. She followed me around for two days, waiting patiently outside my house as I ate dinner with my family. She was such a sweet-mannered cat that I thought she had rabies. No matter how hard I tried to shoo her away, she stayed within a few steps of me, happy to be near me without getting too close. After a great deal of begging, I finally convinced my mom to let me keep her. Though my mom claimed to be allergic, it wasn't long before Michoux was sprawled across my mom's lap purring happily and smiling that content cat smile.

After 13 years of being spoiled by my family--of brushing her each night, sneaking her tuna, playing games with her and chasing her up the stairs--Mish was ready to say goodbye. Though she was a cantankerous thing once weighing in a a whopping 13 lbs, she was, as of late, a timid and skinny 8 lbs. This past weekend, when she stopped eating, we took her to the vet and the outcome was pretty bleak. With a heavy heart, my mom went to say goodbye to her sweet orange gal. Michoux walked into our lives a stray and left us as a beloved member of our family.

Because I was here in Philly, I took the news pretty hard. Michoux was, afterall, my cat. More than that, she was the cat I begged my mom for for 15 years. To not get to pet her one last time or tell her how thankful I was to have been her person for 13 years... well, it broke my heart. When my mom called the night before to tell me she was going to say goodbye, I spent half the night crying, feeling terribly guilty. I still had to go to work the next day, I still had a full email box of messages from PR people, group posts, event planning... and I wanted to plow ahead and tackle it all without taking time to grieve, in typical Kelly fashion. But my friend, fellow cat-lover and podcasting partner, Autumn, checked in on me and suggested that I take a break. Relax. As much as I wanted to reject her idea, I didn't. I went against all inclination and agreed with her.

salted lemon thyme shortbread.jpg

And, in going against what came normally, things came more easily. Like these shortbread. I've made them before, yes, but as I stood at my kitchen island, trying to push the tiny leaves off of each branch of thyme, I got nowhere by going with the grain. The stems broke off, making more of a mess. I got frustrated in that straw-that-breaks-the-camels-back kind of way, where a few tiny thyme twigs can send salty tears watersliding down the apples of your cheeks and you find yourself sniffling them back angrily in vain. Eventually, I had an Autumn moment again. I dropped the few pieces of thyme in my hand, picked up a new branch and remembered that if I rubbed the piece the other direction, the tiny little leaves would give way. And they did. The process went faster. I could take a deep breath and be thankful for the time to bake and for allowing myself to change my approach.

_______ These bars are part of The Leftovers Club, a fantastic group of bloggers who got together with the intention of sharing all the leftover treats we have after posts! [so smart. so smart.] Each month, we're paired with another blogger who we not only get to know, but we also get to ship our baked goods to... AND get some of theirs in the mail.

This month, I was paired with Erin of Eat Bake Drink Cook. Her blog covers the whole gamut, from cooking Truffled Grits with Poached Eggs (umm yes please? can she ship that?) to baking Bourbon Baked Apples and eating out in DC. If you're in the DC area, definitely check out Erin's blog for restaurant suggestions! And if you're not, she's still got plenty of recipes worth checking out!

** Want to know what the other folks are baking, sending and nibbling on this month? Check out their posts!

Bakeaholic Mama - Amish Friendship Muffins
Damn Delicious - Cinnamon Puppy Chow
Domestic Fits – Sriracha Caramel Corn
Frugal Foodie Mama - Coconut Chai Biscotti
Let’s Give Peas a Chance - Chocolate Chip & Potato Chip Cookie Bars
A Zesty Bite - Oreo Toffee Brownies
Dining With Dani - Chocolate Covered Espresso Cookies
MarocMama - Gluten-Free Moroccan Piped Cookies
Sugar Dish Me - Chocolate Cake Cookies
Diethood - Chocolate Cloud Cookies
Eats Well With Others - White Chocolate Blondies
Souffle Bombay - Spicy Dark Chocolate Brownies aka Mexican Brownies
Kelly Bakes - Lemon Thyme Shortbread
Pineapple and Coconut - Chocolate Dipped Caramel Cream Filled Coconut Shortbread
The Spiced Life - “Twisted Tollhouse” Shaved Chocolate Cookies
Eat Bake Drink Cook - Frosted Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Food n’ Focus - English Muffin Bread
Omeletta  - Whiskey Lemon Bars

Salted Lemon Thyme Shortbread

Salted Lemon Thyme Shortbread

Recipe Type




Kelly Vass I kellybakes.com

Prep time:

1 hour

Cook time:

20 mins

Total time:

1 hour 20 mins


4 dozen

An easily customizable, egg-free salted lemon thyme shortbread. Bright citrus, herbal notes and a salty finish. Perfect companion for a cup of tea!


  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons thyme leaves, stems removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mild artisan sea salt (I use Trader Joe's pink Himalayan because it's under $3)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, salt, lemon juice and thyme leaves, tossing to coat leaves and zest with flour to prevent clumping.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour-herb mixture to the butter. Once all flour has been added, add the lemon juice. The mixture should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is still crumbly, add a touch more lemon juice. If it is too sticky, add flour until it comes together as a dough.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Unwrap dough. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4" thickness with a floured rolling pin.
  7. Using a 2" cookie cutter of your choosing, cut shapes into the dough. (I chose hearts). Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle each cookie with a dash of sea salt.
  8. Bake 15-18 minutes (depending on how big your cookies are) or until the edges of each cookie is just barely golden brown.