This past weekend was such a spring tease! The warm yellow sun peeking through clouds through the bare and bony skeleton trees beckoned all of us suffering from cabin fever to get outside and soak it all up.
I did spend a fair share of hours with my face to the sun riding my bike and enjoying the still cool breeze, but a craving for a lightly flaky yet soft and sweet treat lingered annoyingly. It was a desire that could only be satiated by getting the mixer whirring and the oven preheated.
And so, inspired by sun and outdoor afternoon iced tea, I bring you Lemon Biscuit Cookies.
Before we get to the cookies, let’s talk about baking powder. I don’t know about you, but for a long time, I had no idea what the difference between baking soda and its powder counterpart was. To break it down simply, both are leavening agents that cause dough and batter to rise, and both use carbon dioxide produced by a trigger in order to do so.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is activated by the addition of acid (think: volcano science project), and used alongside brown sugar (slightly acidic!) in most recipes. The magic happens when wet ingredients are incorporated. You add baking soda to cookie recipes so that you won’t get flat, cracker-like cookies.
Baking powder is like your all-inclusive rising kit, and includes baking soda plus something acidic (à la cream of tartar). Add wet ingredients, and — poof! — you’ve got your reaction, and light, fluffy, flaky baked goods.
Back to the cookies. For the best flavor, use a fresh lemon and its peel for the zest. If you don’t have a zester, you can use a veggie peeler to lightly peel off the thin yellow outer layer of skin, and then mince with a knife.
I’m a big proponent of using a Silpat (silicone baking mat) for a natural nonstick surface that is reusable and really easy to rinse off. The result is evenly browned cookie bottoms that definitely won’t have you scrubbing the pan for burnt on dough. If you’re not convinced to run out to the store and buy one, you can also use parchment paper just as easily.
Lemon Biscuit Cookies
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cubed and softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars.
3. Add egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix to incorporate all ingredients.
4. Add baking powder and salt and mix to incorporate.
5. Add flour, and mix until a dough is formed.
6. Cover dough with plastic, and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour.
7. Portion dough into 1-inch balls, and gently flatten to form little cakes about an inch thick.
8. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat about 1-2 inches apart.
9. Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottoms are golden.
10 Allow to cool, and then drizzle with icing if desired.
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Water as needed (about 2 tsp.)
Mix sugar and water together until icing drizzles off the back of a spoon in a slow stream.
Jessica Roy is a private chef, specialty caterer and author of foodie blog, Shiso Fresh. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/yourpersonalchef.