Lemon & poppy seed sugar cookies

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Tomorrow is a public holiday in New Zealand. But “holiday” is a bit of a loose term for this one – it’s a day of national remembrance.

It’s ANZAC Day.

One day each year where we take some time to remember the people that made – and continue to make – it possible for us to live the way we do. To be a free nation. To live free of oppression. To be New Zealanders.

Tomorrow marks the day the ANZACs landed on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915 – a battle that would see the shoreline painted red in one of the deadliest campaigns of the War. The massacres of that day knitted together military and civilians as a single country, fighting for a common goal. No longer were we a country of emigrants, a simple member of the commonwealth; we became New Zealanders.

ANZAC biscuits are the biscuit of choice for those looking to commemorate the day with a bit of baking – and with good reason. These biscuits were sent to troops by their loved ones at home – made using ingredients available even during rationing, ANZAC biscuits were hardy, long-lasting and a tasty reminder of home.

But I decided to bake something a little different this year. Without the hindrance of war-time rations, I used the symbol of a poppy to create some special sugar cookies with an ANZAC twist. The result? Lemon and poppy seed cookies decorated with a bright red poppy.

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The finished biscuits are soft to the bite, crumbling into your mouth before melting away into nothingness. The lemon flavour comes through beautifully, while the poppy seeds add just the right amount of crunch to make these biscuits something a little more interesting than your standard biscuit.

The buttercream poppies were nice and simple to do. After preparing a batch of bright red buttercream (don’t even ask how much food colouring went into this – is it just me or is red a really tricky colour to get right, even with gels?) I fitted a decorating bag with a large petal tip and got to work. With the narrowest end of the tip towards me, I piped two petals beside each other by gently turning the tip in an arch-shape. To do the bottom petal, I turned the tip the other way around (widest end towards me) and piped a single long (and slightly ragged) petal by moving the tip in a sidewards motion. I finished each poppy with a sprinkling of poppy seeds.

While they don’t look like the poppies you buy from the RSA, Google assures me they do resemble an actual poppy (in a stylised kind of way). I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out – and they made a tasty reminder of why we’re getting a day off tomorrow.

Enjoy your ANZAC Day, everyone!

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Adapted from Sarcastic Cooking

Makes approx. 40 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 225g butter, softened
  • ¾ cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp lemon zest, heaped
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Method

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  2. Add flour, lemon zest and poppy seeds and gently mix until just combined.
  3. Divide mixture in half (it will be really sticky!) and place each half on a sheet of baking paper. Fold the baking paper around the mixture and gently shape into a log. Unroll baking paper and drop log onto a sheet of gladwrap. Wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least three hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and line two baking sheets. Remove dough from fridge and cut into 1cm thick slices. Place on baking trays approx. 2cm apart.
  5. Bake for 13 minutes for a soft cookie, or up to 15 for one with a crispier edge. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Serve as they are or decorate with a buttercream poppy.

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