Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Adventures in Cooking - Italian Lemon Biscuits

Remember this book from your mum's cookbook shelf? It was our staple sweet cookbook growing up, and the recipes are easy enough for kids over about twelve to do on their own. The chocolate chip cookies, chocolate coconut slice, the lemon coconut squares and the Lebkuchen from this book are things I've been baking for years and years. And they never fail to a) be totally delicious, b) super easy to make and c) a crowd pleaser. When I moved out of home, I found a copy on ebay for six dollars and out of all the cookbooks I own, it gets the most airplay.

But today I wanted to try something different. I've had my eye on the Italian Lemon Biscuit recipe for a while now, and what do you know, we had another afternoon tea at work this week, so I spent a relaxing Sunday afternoon making a few batches of them for work and home.

I didn't take step-by-step photos this time, because it's a very easy recipe and also because I forgot to grab the camera and set everything up nicely. By the time I was wrist deep in mixture it was too late!

The gorgeous serving plate was bought from Bed, Bath and Table this past weekend (they also had it in a different colour - I want to say either a dusty red or white). I cannot go into that shop without buying some sort of home decor item. It was $14.95.

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
60 grams butter at room temperature (the original recipe called for LARD. Can you believe it?)
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Sift the flour into a bowl. With your fingers, rub and gently knead the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. My butter wasn't quite a room temperature, so I zapped it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds and it softened up nicely. Don't worry if it melts a bit, it will still rub in nicely. You just don't want the majority of the butter melted - it needs to be quite solid still.

2. Put the milk and sugar into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved (this takes less than five minutes).

3. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and sugar mix and stir through. Turn off the stove and let the mix cool slightly.

4. Beat the egg and add it to the flour and butter.

5. Add the milk/sugar mix to the flour and butter. Stir through until the mixture becomes a soft dough. You may want to sprinkle a tiny bit more flour on the top of it if it still seems a bit wet.

6. Grab teaspoons full of the mixture and roll into ball shapes. I say ball shapes because I like mine to not be perfectly spherical. When they cook the tops sort of break up and open a bit, and I like the imperfect look. You can make them perfectly round if that's the sort of aesthetic you prefer when baking. 

7. Pop them on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a moderate oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. In my fan forced oven I kept the temperature at about 140° celsius and baked them for about fifteen minutes.

8. Take the biscuits out when they just start to become golden on top and let them cool down.

Icing ingredients
2 - 3 cups of icing sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
lemon rind (optional)

1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. 

2. Pour in one tablespoon of lemon juice and stir it through. If it's too stiff, add more lemon juice a bit at a time. The icing should be runny, but not completely liquified.

3. Using a spoon, drizzle streams of icing back and forth over all the biscuits at once a few times until you have the amount of icing you want on each one.
4. Let the icing dry completely.

And that's it! It's so easy, and the biscuits really do have that Italian biscuit taste, but with a nice zing of lemon in the icing.

- I didn't use lemon rind on top of the icing because I think the icing is lemon-y enough. But it would look nice and add that extra bit of flavour.
- You could also add a tiny splash of lemon juice to the biscuit mixture as you add the egg and the milk/sugar to the flour and butter so that the lemon flavour carries through the biscuits.

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Hannah said...

Anything lemon owns my soul! We never had that particular AWW cookbook, but by golly we had almost every other one, surely! That place/company knows its sweets :)

Julia @ Boredom Abounds said...

Hannah, it's such a great cookbook! Most of the recipes have really stood the test of time I think. Definitely grab a copy off ebay - so worth it!

Zacs said...

My next cooking effort, tomorrow. Thanks Julia :)

Julia @ Boredom Abounds said...

No worries, Zacs. So easy, very tasty and not too guilt-laden (unlike my brownies - delicious, but so, so bad for you!)