If you’ve spent any time watching PBS, you probably remember Bob Ross. Bob was a soft spoken, gentle soul who, in the span of 30 minutes, created landscape paintings with a blank canvas using brushes, a painting knife and his imagination. Nothing was every wrong in his world. If something didn’t go just right, it was not a mistake but rather he referred to it as a ‘happy accident’.
Despite our best efforts, not everything goes right in our bakery either. While we refuse to ship orders that are not as close to perfection as we can get, when things don’t turn out quite right we try very hard not to waste anything. If a batch is not up to spec, or we are experimenting with a new recipe, we do our best to salvage the product and create our own version of a ‘happy accident’. This is how we created Shepard’s Shortbread.
A few years ago, we were making several batches of our Artisan Cookies. The bakery was humming, mixer going, cookie helpers forming the dough and sheets going into the cooler. In an attempt to keep the hopper full, I inadvertently added the flour to the butter and sugar mixture before adding the eggs. No way to reverse this.
Eggs not only provide moisture, but leavening as well. Without it, you have a basic shortbread recipe. I sat the dough aside and later rolled it out, cut it into squares and baked up some shortbread. It was really, really good.
Whenever we have extra cookies or are experimenting with a new recipe, we never like to see good product go to waste. One of our favorite places to visit and donate extra product, is The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in Raleigh. They ‘Serve the Hungry and Feed the Soul’. Right up our alley.
I carried the short bread down there and offered it up for their lunch. It was a hit and over the next few weeks we had a few more ‘happy accidents’ as we worked on getting the recipe and process just right.
After a few rounds of testing, we decided to add it to our Artisan Cookie Tower. We named it Shepherd’s Shortbread in honor of our friends who serve those in our community in need of physical and spiritual nourishment.
A few weeks ago during one of our cookie making sessions, I inadvertently forgot to add the eggs again. This time, to our traditional cookie recipe. No problem – I set the dough aside knowing that this was just another ‘happy accident’.
I baked up some shortbread and dropped it off at the Shepard’s Table. Raven and Michael were more than happy to add it to the lunch menu. While I did not stick around for the lunch rush, I’m hoping that combined with the other food served up that day, the ‘happy accident’ from Anna’s Gourmet Goodies helped feed the soul of the guests who dined with them that day. That’s right in line with our mission.
Bob passed away on July 4th nearly 20 years ago. We never met, but something tells me that our version of a ‘happy accident’ would meet with his approval. And while everything we do might not turn out perfect, being of service and making people happy is always a key ingredient in our recipes.