Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sablés au Citron: French Lemon Shortbread from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan

According to respected cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, "Cookies don't get simpler or more satisfying than sablés, the basic butter cookie of France." In her cookbook, Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan turns to Paris pâtisserie owner, M. Lerch who flavors his sablés with lemon zest and coats their edges with sugar so they come out of the oven with a bit of sparkle. M. Lerch advises a gentle touch when you add the flour, so the gluten isn't activated. Also, he encourages a nice long rest in the refrigerator to allow the gluten to relax and to allow the cookies to hold their shape during slicing and baking.

Here's the recipe:

16 tablespoons salted butter
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Grated zest of 1-1 1/2 lemons
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar, for coating

Don't worry about blending in all of the flour.

1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by salt, vanilla, and grated lemon zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to undercoat than overheat at this point; if the flour isn't fully incorporated, that's OK---just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours.

3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/ Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. While the oven is preheating, work on the sugar coating: Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Spread the sugar out on a piece of wax paper. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing the sugar gently to get it to stick if necessary, then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch thick. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

My modifications: I added two teaspoons of lemon juice for a jolt of added lemon flavor. I decided to roll and cut out the cookies instead of making the dough into a log and slicing the cookies. I sprinkled them with sugar instead of adding sugar with egg to the edges.

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  1. My wife makes shortbread but uses semolina instead of flour. Is confectioners sugar what we call caster sugar as I have not heard of the one you use

  2. Confectioners sugar is a light powdery sugar here. I’m not terribly sure what caster sugar is.

  3. They look utterly sweet, simple and divine!

  4. Yes, please! These look delicious.

  5. These sound divine! How did you get the flower design on the edges? Did I miss a step in your instructions?

    1. I made a few modifications to the recipe, and I liked them all. I should probably note those in the post.

  6. Lemon and shortbread. Sounds perfectly delicious!

  7. Mmmmmmm. I just rediscovered Lorna Doone's. Simple is definitely better!

  8. Interesting that she mentions about not activating the gluten and letting it rest. My husband is gluten free so I use gluten free flour all the time. I must try this recipe since I love anything lemon.

  9. Did you do the egg and sugar on the edge after cutting them? I don't see how you could do that. I love sables from a French patisserie -- one of the only simple things they do. Definitely a very French thing.

    best... mae at

  10. Love shortbread, love lemon, love Dorie! Win, win, win!

  11. I love anything lemon and these look easy to make! Thanks for sharing!

  12. What perfect little cookies, which I'm looking forward to making very soon!

    1. Pretty is always a nice bonus with cookies. I hope you will post about it, if you make them.


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