Saturday, 8 February 2014

Lemon & Polenta Cookies

These are unusual little biscuits and whilst simple to make are a little different to the type of biscuit that I would normally bake.

I love anything lemon flavoured and many of the recipes that I prefer to cook and bake inevitably seem to include lemons. This recipe is based on one that I came across years ago in a magazine, but I have adapted it to include loads of lemon flavour by way of loads of finely grated lemon zest which I made using my trusted Microplane grater!

The yellow colour of the added polenta echoes the yellow of the lemons used in the recipe but also gives the finished biscuits an irresistible crunch when you bite into them.
 

Although this may sound like a strange description, I would say that the polenta adds a short but almost grainy texture to the biscuits. If a smoother, almost shortbread-like texture is preferred I would suggest substituting the polenta for the same weight of semolina which gives a slightly different albeit equally delicious result.
 
I used a small fluted cookie cutter to cut out rounds of the biscuits from the rolled-out dough, but use any shaped cookie cutter that you like.
 
Initially I was going to leave the biscuits plain, but the lemon, bereft of its zest which was used to flavour the biscuit dough, was almost taunting me with the possibilities of the unused juice at its interior – so I used a little of the squeezed juice with some icing sugar to create a tart icing which I drizzled over the finished biscuits. You can of course leave them plain, but the lemon drizzle icing really does emphasize the lemon flavour of the biscuits and I would strongly recommend its use!

Other citrus fruits can be used instead of lemons and I have previously created a lovely version of this biscuit using pink grapefruit.

Ingredients:

200g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
4 egg yolks
300g plain flour, sifted
150g polenta (fine maize meal)
Icing:
50g icing sugar
2tsp lemon juice
 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200C/Fan Oven 180C/Gas Mark 6. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place butter, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time making sure that each is well incorporated before adding the next.
3. Mix the flour and polenta together and then add to the creamed mixture and using a wooden spoon mix together to form a dough. Wrap the dough in cling-film and refrigerate for half an hour.
4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work-surface until ½cm thick and cut out discs using a round 6mm cookie cutter. Lace these onto the parchment-lined trays, leaving space between each one and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until a light golden colour. Allow to cool on wire racks and when cooled drizzle with a little lemon icing.
Icing:
5. Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over the biscuits with a small teaspoon.

Makes 24-30 biscuits.