These lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born of good intention and circumstances. I had planned a visit to some friends who are working tirelessly (and harder than I think I ever will) to renovate a new home. I had planned something along the chocolate line but my intentions were not strong enough to bear a walk in the rain to the shops, so I decided to be creative with what I had in stock.
I had a lemon and all the basics of baking (flour, butter, sugar and eggs). I am sure that some philosophical baker must, at some point, pondered how that this is all you need for greatness (in baking terms at least). I couldn`t resist the addition of some sesame seeds.(Maybe I amn`t philosophical enough) I had black sesame ice cream on a trip to Vancouver last year and it`s brilliance has influenced my cooking every since. Sesame has the ability to work perfectly in sweet and savoury dishes. Hence lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born.
These biscuits are somewhere between a biscuit with real snap and crunch, the type you dunk in a cup of your chosen hot beverage, and those spongier soft biscuits that are almost cake like. That little bit of baking soda lightens it so that it isn`t dry. It can happily be eaten alone or would be nice sitting on the side of some cream and fruit. I grated the lemon zest on a fairly wide grater so it really has bursts of freshness, and the citrus power of a simple powdered sugar and lemon juice concoction shouldn`t be underestimated. I liked the almost honeyed nuttiness of the sesame with the lemon, but it may not be for everyone. I think a tasty and perhaps more traditional substitution for the sesame coating would be poppy seed. This a pretty versatile biscuit though, so you mix up the zest you like with any nut or seed coating you fancy. It also can easily be made gluten free by substituting gluten free flour and gluten free sesame seeds. I like any recipe that I can easily make variations of within the same batch, so feel free to mix and match.
This recipe makes about 18 biscuits
250 grams of plain or cream flour (You can use a gluten free flour if you wish)
150 grams of granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (Bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100 grams of unsalted butter (softened)
I only made enough lemon glaze for half the biscuits so double up if you want to glaze them all
75 grams icing sugar or powdered sugar
2 -3 teaspoons of lemon juice
50 grams of sesame seeds for the sesame crust
1. Mix together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. You can use a whisk to combine them or sieve to get rid of any lumps.
2. Mix the butter until it is soft and creamy. Resist the urge to heat it to make it softer, it can make your biscuits greasy.
3. Add the sugar to the butter and mix until well combined.
4. Now add the egg and stir until combined, followed by the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest. There is no need to beat this as you are not trying to incorporate air. Just mix enough to blend it.
5. Add the flour mix to the butter mix and stir until just combined. Try not to mix it any more than you need to.
6. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.
7. Now it is time to shape the biscuits. Pop the dough in the fridge while you line a baking tray with parchment or greaseproof paper. I use a little butter under each corner to hold it down. Take a generous teaspoon of the dough and roll it in the palms of your hands to form rough balls. They should be about the same size as an walnut with it’s shell on.
8. Dip the biscuits in a small bowl of sesame seeds and roll around if you wish to make ones with a sesame crumb.
9. Space them about 3 inches apart on a baking tray.
11. Let them cool for a few minutes on the tray before moving them onto a cooling rack. A spatula or fish slice can help with this.
12. The lemon glaze is simply made by mixing the lemon juice with the icing sugar. It is easier to ice the biscuits if the icing is quite thick. I like it thick enough that it holds the pattern of the icing falling back into the bowl for a few seconds. I coloured mine pale yellow and added edible glitter but I may have been getting carried away at this point….
13. Drizzle the icing over the biscuits. You can use a spoon or a piping bag for this. I put a tray under the cooling rack to catch any drips.
Another great variation would be replacing the lemon for lime, and sesame for coconut! A tropical treat!walnut and hazelnut cantuccini or some decadent hazelnut shortbread sandwiched with chocolate ganache!