Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crunchy Lemon Polenta Biscuits

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading the Irish Times Magazine online on PressDisplay (less recycling, all the content) when a recipe from one of my favourite cookery writers caught my eye.  I have a while lot of love and respect for Domini Kemp who inspired two of my top recipes - Pear Gingerbread - which has since morphed into my Chocolate Apricot Spice Cake; and my Daube of Pork with Apricots which won the Irish Foodies Winter Warmers Competition.  

Now you know how fabulous Domini's recipes are, you'll understand why I was so excited to see her recipe for Lemon Polenta Biscuits in the Irish Times.  Let me just explain that polenta is a tad difficult to source in your local supermarket (i.e. not in Dunnes, Tesco, Supervalu, Aldi or Lidl the day I went a-searching).  Luckily, our neighbourhood health food shop had polenta in stock.  And as I discovered afterwards, semolina flour is a perfectly acceptable - if less crunchy - alternative.

After making these biscuits, I really believe that the trick is chilling the dough so it's as cold as possible.  Place it in the freezer if that helps.  Scoop it out of a container with a spoon and roll it in caster sugar so it doesn't stick, and rolls out relatively easy.  I doubled up on the lemon in the original recipe because biscuits can never be lemony enough as far as I'm concerned.  And the ladies in Finance certainly agreed - even the "non-biscuit eaters" managed to open the lid & nibble on one or three... This quantity makes about 50 and don't worry because you will have queues of people lining up for a bag of these delicate lemony biscuits.  Mammy in Law absolutely loved them too (she wanted me to tell you that!)

Crunchy Lemon Polenta Biscuits

150g Butter
300g Polenta (or Semolina)
150g Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
Zest of 3 Lemons (unwaxed)
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Lots of extra Caster Sugar for dusting/rolling

Process the butter, polenta, flour, caster sugar and lemon zest together in a food processor, until it resembles sandy breadcrumbs. 

Add the egg and vanilla extract and it should come together to form a dough. If it doesn’t, add a splash of water. Place the dough in a lidded container and chill it.

When you are ready to bake the biscuits, pre-heat an oven to 190 degrees/gas mark five. Have two baking trays ready and lined with parchment paper. Scoop out small pieces of the cookie dough and roll into balls, about the size of small ping pong balls. Roll out very lightly using some caster sugar until they flatten down. You need to be able to transfer them on to the baking sheets, but it is best to do this with a non-stick fish slice or palette knife.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, but do keep an eye on them. They will eventually go golden brown, but they are nicer when they are cooked through but retain their lovely yellow colour, so if necessary, turn down the oven and cook for a bit longer. It all depends how thick they end up after rolling out.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.  They do keep for at least a week in an airtight tin, so make a perfect gift.


  1. Ooh lovely! Really like the look and sound of these. I don't often have much luck with biscuits but I'm going to give these little beauties a go asap. I might be calling out for help via Twitter some day soon!

  2. They're very very crunchy which I thought would put some people off (use semolina if you want something a bit less threatening!). The non-biscuit eating person in the office went home and made them!