With the powdered sugar coating, you will expect a sweet taste to settle on your tongue. Your tastebuds are in for a surprise! I mix the icing sugar with lemon zest, citric acid/sour salt and a little salt. When you bite into this crisp cookie, you get a sour, sweet and lemony taste sensation all at once. Quite unusual for a cookie but it’s a pleasant mouthful.

Most recipes will suggest icing the cookies with a lemon icing to increase the lemony taste. I do not like to ice cookies. Once you stack them in the cookie jars, more often than not, they become sticky and messy. It gets even worse if you live in an area with high humidity. Powdering them with icing sugar is the alternative.

My family and friends know that if they want to eat these cookies, they have to come over. I don’t ever bake these to give away. Why? I only bake a manageable quantity of these as I do not like to work with confectioner’s sugar. It gets all over the kitchen.I am sure you are a neater baker than me so please bake them to give away. Your family and friends who are into lemon cookies will love these. I do bake these Checkerboard Cookies to give away. They are hugely popular and keep well.

Easier to bake are my Buttery Butter Cookies

and Chocolatey Chocolate Cookies.

Crisp Lemon Cookies

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: 12 – 14 minutes
Inactive: 2 hours
Level: Moderately easy. More fussy if you must have the cookies absolutely round in shape.
Makes: 60 cookies
Oven Temperature: 320F (160C)
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated 2 days or frozen 2 weeks. Stored in airtight jars, cookies taste just as fresh a week later.


For the dough
4 oz (110 g) unsalted butter*
2.5 oz (70 g) caster sugar
1 teaspoons lemon zest (from approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract**
5.5 oz (160 g) all-purpose/plain flour
1 Tablespoon rice flour***
1/8 teaspoon salt*
For the Sour Lemon Sugar Coating
1 cup Icing/Confectioner’s sugar
3/4 teaspoons citric acid**
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from approximately 4 lemons)***
a pinch or two of fine salt
1 Tablespoons edible gold glitter (optional)
* I use butter with a butterfat content of at least 82 to 83%. European butters typically have butterfat that falls within these percentages. I am partial to the French brand, President for baking these cookies. Whichever brand of butter you choose to use, it must have at least a minimum of 82% butterfat.The higher butterfat and lower water content content means a more buttery and crisp cookie. Buy a good tasting butter to begin with as it will highlight both the butter and the lemon.
** Dr Oetker is the brand I prefer. It is oil and not alcohol based, mixed with just the extract of lemons.
*** This is that extra something that will make the cookies that extra bit more crispy.
* Omit if you are using salted butter.
** This is a naturally occurring fruit acid. It is sold in the form of tiny crystals and adds a tartness to food. It is also used as a preservative and you will often see it labelled as an ingredient in drinks, jams, canned food, etcetera. In a pinch, you could use it in place of lemons to sour up a sauce or dressing. You should find this in the baking aisles of supermarkets.
*** Zest an hour earlier and set aside for it to dry throughly.


Making the cookie dough
1. Add the butter to the mixer bowl and let it soften to room temperature. That means you should be able to press easily into the butter with your finger but it should not feel at all ‘melty’.
2. Sift the all-purpose/plain flour, rice flour and salt together. Set aside.
3. Add sugar to the soften butter. Attach the whisk attachment and turn on the mixer to medium high speed and whisk until pale, light and creamy.

4. Turn speed down to medium low and add the 1/2 egg yolk. Let the mixer run for 1 minute. Turn off the mixer.
5. Quickly scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract.
6. Turn on the mixer and let it run at medium low for 1 minute to incorporate everything well. Turn off.
7. Now, switch to a paddle attachment if you have one, if not continue using the whisk attachment.
8. Turn the machine back on to low speed, gradually add in the sifted flours and salt. It should take about 1 minute. Turn off the mixer before the flours are completely mixed in. Incorporate the rest of the flours with a spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl as you go and folding the batter over itself as you do. It should not take more than 30 seconds. Do not over mix or your cookie might not be as light.
9. If the dough looks too sticky, add 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose/plain flour at a time. Go slow on the flour. You want to add just enough so that it isn’t sticky looking. The dough in the image below still has a tiny bit of flour left, that is fine.

Option 1
:  Rolling dough into logs (this would be the simplest method to slice and bake cookies)

1. Lay out an arm’s length of plastic wrap on your work surface. Transfer the dough on it and with a bench scrapper, shape into a rough log with a diameter of 2″ (5 cm).
2. Next, use the plastic wrap to enclose and roll the dough, shaping it into a cylindrical log. Twist the plastic ends closed and tucked under the dough log to secure.
3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm dough thoroughly or up to 2 days. If not, freeze up to 2 weeks. Read how you should refrigerate the dough and why you should not refrigerate any longer than 2 weeks by scrolling down to ‘Tips’.

Option 2: To get round cookies (this is the fussier way to prepare cookies for baking)

1. I have come up with an even shorter way of getting ’round-cut’ cookies. Previously, I had used parchment paper, plastic wrap and the cardboard tubes of kitchen paper towel. Now, I skip the parchment paper entirely.
2. You would need to eyeball the number of cardboard kitchen paper towel tubes you will need as those cardboard tubes come in varying lengths and diameters. So look at the cookie dough you have and decide.
3. Tear off lengths of plastic wrap that is 1.5x longer than the cardboard tubes.
4. Roll the cookie dough into the required numbered of plastic wrapped logs to fit the cardboard tubes. Be mindful that you have to roll it into a diameter that will fit through the cardboard rolls.
5. Secure one end of the plastic wrapped dough with a dead knot. Slide this end first through the cardboard tube. Keep the knotted end as the base, let the ‘plastic tail’ hang outside and turn the tube upright.
6. To fit the dough compactly into the cardboard tube, with the tube upright, cup the base of the cardboard tube with your palm and fingers, making sure you have the end of the ‘plastic tail’ pinned securely against the outside of the cardboard tube.
7. With your other free hand, hold on to the other end of plastic wrap.
8. Lift and then bang the tube down onto your work surface. Do this a few times until you have a compressed cylindrical tube of dough. Twist the open end of plastic wrap secure to seal.
9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm dough thoroughly or up to 2 days. If not, freeze up to 2 weeks. Read how you should refrigerate the dough and why you should not refrigerate any longer than 2 weeks by scrolling down to ‘Tips’.

Slicing the cookie dough for baking
1. ~ 20 minutes before you remove cookie dough, preheat the oven to 320F (160C), oven rack adjust to lower middle position.
2. 5 – 10 minutes before you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Option 1: The log
1. Remove the plastic wrap and cut the dough log into 0.15″ (0.4 cm) thick slices.
2. Place them on a silicon mat or parchment paper lined baking trays. Leave a 0.4″ to 0.8″ (1 – 2 cm) gap between cookies.
3. If at any point you feel the dough has become too soft to cut neatly, return it to the refrigerator to firm up.
4, Cut cookies, must be refrigerated if they are not baked immediately. Left on the work surface, they will start to melt and this will affect the texture and shape of the cookies.
5. Those in the image below are about to go in the oven. If you have a cookie stamp and want to emboss them, read on below to find out how to emboss with clear raised images and without the need for flouring or getting your cookie stamp all clogged up with dough.

Option 2: Round cookies
1. To keep the cookies as round as possible, turn the circular log of cookie dough a little each time you cut off a 0.15″ (0.4 cm) slice. This way, you do not put undue pressure on one particular length of the dough and end up with a flat sided round cookie.
2. If at any point you feel the dough has become too soft to cut neatly, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Cut cookies, must be refrigerated if they are not baked immediately. Left on the work surface, they will start to melt and this will affect the texture and shape of the cookies.
3. These are ready to go in the oven. If you have a cookie stamp and want to use it, find out how I emboss cookies with clear raised imaged, by reading on below.

Stamping the cookie dough for baking

1. Besides slicing the cookies off the log, you could also choose to stamp balls of dough with a cookie stamp. I use my terra cotta cookie stamps that measure 2″ (5 cm) in diameter.
2. Slice off a 0.2″ (0.5 cm) thick slice from the log of cookie dough and lay it on the silicon mat or parchment paper lined baking tray. Push in the edges to form a squat circle.
3. I have found that the best way to get clear imprints on the cookies is to work with chilled dough and to loosely lay a square of plastic wrap over the squat circle of dough and then emboss the dough with the cookie stamp. Do not bother flouring or oiling the stamps as they do nothing to stop the dough from sticking to the recesses of the debossed surface. Plastic wrap is the way to go. All that flouring will ruin the taste and texture of the cookies.

1. Bake the cookies at 320 F (160 C) for 7 minutes, oven rack at lower middle position. Then rotate the cookie tray front side back and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden brown. The tops will probably still be mostly pale or perhaps a little golden brown along the circumference.
2. Remove from the oven. Let it to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
3. Store in air tight jars.

Making the Sour Lemon Sugar Coating
1. Whizz until very fine the ingredients (except the edible gold glitter) for the Sour Lemon Sugar Coating in a food processor.
2. Watch that your food processor doesn’t start to heat up or your sugar mix might start to melt and clump. Transfer the sugar mix into a plastic bag. Leave it open and set aside.

Dusting the cookies
1. When the cookies are still very slightly warm, drop the cookies one at a time into the bag of sugar mix to coat thoroughly. The cookies are fragile and will likely break if you drop too many cookies in the bag of sugar mix. Transfer each powdered cookie back to the wire cooling rack.
2. When all the powdered cookies have been transferred back to the wire cooling rack, use a medium mesh sieve (that is, a sieve with larger perforated holes) and dust them again with the sugar mix. A fine mesh sieve will not do as it will not allow the bits of lemon zest to be sifted through.
3. If serving them straight away, sprinkle with edible gold glitter.  If not, store in airtight jars. Store the access Sour Lemon Sugar Coating to dust a fresh coat of powdered sugar each time you serve the cookies or use them in your cup of tea.


Why you should not refrigerate the dough longer than 2 days in the refrigerator and up to 2 weeks in the freezer

These cookies are called icebox cookies as the dough is chilled before slicing and baking. They taste best baked no later than 2 days after you chill them or up to 2 weeks in the freezer. Wrap securely in parchment paper, then aluminium foil and keep in a lidded container.  You do not want smells from the refrigerator or freezer going into your cookie dough.  If you cannot guarantee an odour free refrigerator/freezer, bake the cookies as soon as you can. The flip side is that the baked cookies keep very well without refrigeration for at least a week in an airtight container, kept away from heat and direct light source.


Iced Lemon Tea. It seems almost nonsensical to post a recipe about iced lemon tea but with so many lemons left after baking the lemon cookies and with still more citric acid, it would be logical to move on to using up the lemons in a quick and simple way. We used up all the lemon zest so we cannot bake lemon puddings or lemon meringue pies, at least not for the moment!