Bake with Michelle Darmody: Lemons and their zest

I have included the recipe for lemon slices in this column before, but decided to add it again, says Michelle Darmody.

The previous time somewhere between my computer and the printed page some of the details vanished, as can happen, even with the most rigorous will in the world.

I was inundated with letters and calls the subsequent week, with diligent bakers noticing the omission and asking for the correct details.

For all those of you who intended getting in touch but did not get around to it, here is the recipe again. It is a good one. 

It does take a little practice to get the textures just right and it is worth having a little patience if you do not get it right the first time. The zesty, soft lemon topping is a perfect summer’s day treat.

I use lemon in baking quite a lot this time of year as the days are getting warmer. A glass of homemade lemonade is lovely on a summer day or a squeeze of juice added to some icing spruces it up and add some tangy depth.

These pistachio and lemon cookies are easier and quicker to make than the lemon slices and the chopped green nuts on top make them look luxurious. 

I often sprinkle some dried rose petals over the cookies as well for added colour and flavour.

Poppyseed and lemon is a combination I first came across while working in America as a student. People would munch lemon and poppyseed muffins for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day. 

The two flavours work very well together and the dark blue seeds look beautiful in the cake.

Lemon slices

Bake with Michelle Darmody: Lemons and their zest

For the base

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 250g of cold butter, cubed
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • the zest of one lemon
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • For the topping
  • 4 eggs
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • the zest of 2 lemons
  • 290g of caster sugar
  • 100mls of lemon juice
  • 1 level tsp of baking powder
  • 50g of plain flour

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 9 inch square tin with parchment.

To make the base mix all the ingredients together until they look like breadcrumbs.

Pat the mixture down evenly into the tin and bake it for twenty minutes until it is starting to turn golden.

Set aside while you make the topping.

Beat the eggs, salt, zest and sugar until foamy and white, and doubled in volume.

You do not want to mix much more than this or else it will start to get meringue like in texture.

Add the other ingredients; don’t beat at this stage just mix together.

Pour on top of the slightly cooled first layer and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.

If it still wobbles a lot bake it for another 1- 2 minutes.

Once cooled in the tin cut into fingers with a knife dipped into boiling water and enjoy.

Lemon and poppyseed loaf

Bake with Michelle Darmody: Lemons and their zest

  • 165g of golden caster sugar
  • 175g of soft butter
  • the zest of 5 lemons
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbs of poppy seeds
  • 125g of natural yogurt
  • 200g of self-raising flour, sieved

For the icing:

  • 3 tbs of lemon juice
  • 200g of icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 2 lb loaf tin with parchment.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs. If the mixture begins to split add a tablespoon of the flour. 

Stir in the zest and yogurt and then add the sieved flour. Stir in the poppyseeds and make sure the mixture is combined.

Scoop into into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar until it forms a smooth icing. Spoon this over the cooled cake and decorate with some lemon zest.

Lemon pistachio cookies

  • 120g of caster sugar
  • 200g of soft butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • the zest of three lemons
  • 275g of plain flour, sieved
  • a handful of pistachio nuts shelled and chopped
  • For the icing
  • 70g of icing sugar
  • 1 tbs of lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment.

Mix together the sugar, butter, egg yolk and lemon zest. Stir in the sieved flour and bring the dough together with a wooden spoon.

Tip it out onto a floured surface and cut out 30 circles about 3 inches across.

Cut out another hole in the centre, re-using the cast off dough.

Place onto the baking trays, leaving some room around each cookie. Place the trays into the fridge for about twenty minutes.

Bake until they are beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes.

Make the icing by stirring the juice into the sugar. Drizzle it over the cookies once they have cooled down completely.

Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios while the icing is still soft.


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