Crystal, one of our readers, sent us this beautiful image of a giant cookie she made with her 2 children a few weeks ago. It’s a lemon poppy shortcake that was carved before baking, and the photo was used for their Christmas cards this year. What a great idea!
Crystal was so sweet to write down the recipe / method for us — so here we go. Thank you, Crystal!
Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread (from Claudia Fleming, The Last Course)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat well. In a bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Form the dough into a disk and, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.) Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 1/2-cm thick rectangle. Return dough to refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.
For normal cookies: Cut the shortbread into shapes with a two-inch cookie cutter, or use a knife, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. The original recipe says not to re-roll the scraps, but my kids didn’t want to stop, and it seemed like a waste of potential cookies, so we kept re-rolling and cutting until we had used everything up -to no noticeable effect on the baked cookies. Prick shortbread with a fork and bake until pale golden all over, 23 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For a giant cookie: After rolling it out to the rectangular shape I wanted, I popped it onto the baking tin, covered it with cling film and popped into the freezer for around 10 minutes. I kept doing this each time during the cutting to ensure that the cookie mixture was firm enough to carve/cut. I used a toothpick to sketch out the main shapes and then used a small sharp paring knife to cut out fuller shapes out around the toothpick lines. I then used a wooden chopstick dipped in water to smooth the inside of some of the cut lines that hadn’t cut so well. The cookie definitely cut better when it had just come out of the freezer, so I kept popping it in and out quite frequently during the process. I actually did this part while my kids were taking their afternoon nap -it would have been quite boring for them to watch this part. By the time they woke up, we gathered the scraps, ruled them into a few extra creatively shaped cookies, and the whole thing was ready to go into the oven! We kept a close eye on it’s cooking, and after about 25 minutes took it out when the edges were beginning to brown. Then we had to be really patient, (ok, maybe not that patient! There were a couple of the extra cookies to nibble on) while the giant cookie cooled down. It slipped off the tray perfectly, and we were able to photograph it right away. Finally we all had fun breaking up our giant cookie to lots of small irregular sizes and packing them away for tea later!