Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lemon sablés

Sablés are plain and buttery, like a lighter shortbread, and are just the thing sometimes when baking must be done for the sake of one’s sanity, yet there’s not a lot of time or desire to spend on anything involved and complicated. I’d made chocolate and green-tea versions before, but never these sablés au citron from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets.

I don’t pull out that book often enough for my own good. It presents well-tried recipes from various Parisian cafes, Pâtisserie Lerch in this case, and everything I’ve ever done from it – burnt-butter financiers, sablés Korova (reborn as the famous World Peace Cookies in Baking) – has been simple and pleasing.

I might have gone on about this before, but Dorie’s recipes are so meticulously detailed and clearly explained in terms of expected outcome that they’re a pleasure to follow and hard to stuff up. She’s one of those writers whose recipe books can be read like novels, especially this one with all its Parisian backstory and diminutive size.

This recipe’s a classic slice-and-bake, dough mixed together in moments, formed into logs and refrigerated until needed – the zesting took the longest to do of any one stage, but that clean, sharp lemon-oil aroma that floats up is worth a few minutes. Before baking, the logs are painted with an egg-yolk wash and rolled in sugar, which gives them a crystally, crunchy edge. And that’s it – simplicity in a biscuit.

Of course, it should be that simple, but my oven let me down as usual – the biscuits around the edges of the tray gained the slight goldenness I wanted for all of them, but most were pale and their texture not as good. And my logs never form perfect circles, as noted before, and this time I really wanted them to be like buttery coins. I'm sure it’s because I am deprived of a marble benchtop. 

But they were good with tea anyway, all fifty of them, and in terms of baking-lite as relaxation, sablés are it and a bit. 

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