December 11, 2012 03:33:20 PM

St. Clement’s Oranges and Lemons Cookies

“’Oranges and Lemons’ say the Bells of St. Clement's,” begins an English nursery rhyme about the bells of London's oldest churches. No one knows which of two London's St. Clements churches inspired the rhyme, as both were near the wharves where citrus cargo was unloaded. These orange-and-lemon cut-out cookies are based on my mother’s basic sugar cookie recipe, which I’ve adapted to give the cookies a citrus-y zing. Instead of vanilla, I use the juice from a Meyer lemon (though any kind of lemon will do), plus the zest of both oranges and lemons are added to the dough. This dough handles beautifully, and can be decorated simply with colored sugars, zest-scented granulated sugar, or a thin confectioners’ sugar glaze. Enjoy!! ;o)

• ½ cup butter, at room temperature
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 medium egg
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed, once you've zested the lemon)
• Zest of two or three oranges, minced
• Zest of a lemon, minced (Use 2 or 3, if they are smallish Meyer lemons)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough for cutting
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt

For the icing: Confectioners’ sugar (a cup or more)
Orange ratafia, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, strained fresh orange juice (plus a touch of grated zest for oomph) or vanilla extract, or water
Or plain or colored decorating sugars, for sprinkling (I like to combine minced zest with raw sugar on these.)

1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, lemon juice and vanilla extract; beat well to combine.
2. Add 2 tablespoons (combined and firmly packed) of lemon and orange zest to the dough and mix well.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add them to the creamed mixture of butter, sugar, etc. Stir to combine.
4. Chill the dough for at least a few hours. Overnight is better. As with so many cookies, a longer rested dough produces a tastier cookie.
5. Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a regular oven, or 350 degrees for a convection oven.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut with cookie cutters, dipping the cutters into a saucer covered with flour periodically, for easier cutting. Place the cut shapes of dough on a cookie sheet covered with parchment (or lightly oiled, if you don’t have parchment). Sprinkle lightly with colored sugars or granulated sugar scented with citrus zest, if you like.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, your cookie sheets, etc. The cookies are done when the edges are very light brown.
8. Remove the cookies immediately to let cool on a wire rack.
9. If you want to decorate with icing: Sift or sieve a cup or so of confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and stir in the liquid very gradually (starting with a teaspoon), until you get the consistency you like. Sprinkle with decorative sugars or more zest, if you like.

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