Monday 29 October 2012

Work/Life Balance and Lemon Sugar Cookies

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Life has been manic lately.  I know every third post for the last two years has probably started that way, but this time it's really true (or maybe life just gets more and more manic as we get older, and manic takes on a whole new meaning every year??  Oh god, I hope not...).  Anyway, work has gotten increasingly more intense, and as of next week I'm going to be working in the office every day (as opposed to my current schedule of half-in, half-out), and things with the book are heating up too – the relevance of all these facts to you lovely sweet-toothed readers is that posting may be a bit sparse in the coming months.  I'll definitely do my best, as this little corner of the internets is one of my favorite places to spend that in-between time (not quite free, as in time to stuff my face and watch Downton Abbey, but not quite work, as in bust my butt and get paid a little bit for it), but these days I have little time to bake, and even littler daytime to photograph.

Nonetheless, we all know I'm not going to stop baking altogether, and between my usual stress-baking tendencies and the fact that we're doing our own Thanksgiving over here this year, there should still be plenty of fodder for posts.  But you may have to forgive me if I'm not super creative; when I'm stressed and pressed for time, all I want to do is throw together something I'm pretty sure will taste good.

And that was the plan with these cookies.  Lemon + sugar + butter = obvious choice.

I bookmarked these cookies forever ago on Design Sponge – lemon is one of my favorite flavors for sweet things (had you guessed?), and I'm a sucker for simplicity done well, which is the definition of a good sugar cookie, so it seemed like a match made in heaven.  Still, this bookmark fell ever further down the priority list as I became obsessed with nostalgic snacks and delicious savory mains and seemingly-complicated grown-up desserts.

But then I was bored and cruising through my bookmarks one day, and I stumbled across this old tab.  I had lemons, and butter, and sugar, and cravings – it was serendipity!  So I got up and got to it, expecting great things.

And the result?  Well, they were definitely tasty, but I was disappointed to discover that I could barely taste the lemon – and I'd put in a whole lemon, despite cutting the recipe down to 3/4!  They also weren't chewy, really... more crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.  Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but wasn't what I was craving, so was a bit disappointing.  I went to sleep that night a bit bummed out.

The next day, though, I had a cookie for breakfast.  And then another.  And while I still didn't think they were lemony enough, I had to admit that the subtly citrus flavor was quite lovely, and the texture had settled a bit overnight and was chewier than it had been upon first bite.

So, not exactly the amazingly lemony chewy delights I'd been expecting, but they weren't a waste of ingredients either.  My work friends, not having the expectations I'd had, thought they were great, and I simply smiled, popped another one in my mouth, and made a mental note to double (or even triple!) the lemon zest next time.

Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
recipe from BGSK via D*S

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together:
     2 ¼ c flour
     ½ tsp salt
     1 tsp baking soda

Cream until very smooth:
     1 c (225g) butter, rm temp
     1 c sugar
     zest of 1 lemon

Add and beat until fluffy:
     1 egg

Pour in flour mix and stir until just combined — don’t overmix.

Spread about 1/3 cup coarse sugar (plain old granulated sugar is fine) on a plate and roll 2-inch balls of dough in it until they're completely coated.  Place 3-4 inches apart on lined cookie sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are golden but tops are still pale.  Let cool on cookie sheets for a minute before removing to a rack to cool completely.

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