As the season for baking ramps up, I’ve been thinking a lot about these cookies. They are quite different from most of the cookies I’ve tried. If you’ve looked through my blog, you will have seen that I have a penchant for foods that can boast of lemon. In this recipe the lemon is rounded out by the addition of orange. The cornmeal gives a lovely crunch and texture to an otherwise very simple and rustic cookie.
The Italian name for these cookies is Crumiri, however, we shape them by hand in the form of Torchettini, the way my mother was taught some years ago.
If you decide to make these, plan to set aside a morning or afternoon to do so. The dough comes together in no time at all, but the rolling and shaping takes a good deal of time. The dough is challenging but forgiving to work with, and in the end, with a little patience, you will have a lovely cookie that is fantastic with tea or coffee.
Italian Polenta Cookies
6 oz (3/4 cup) butter
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
zest of two oranges (approx 1 generous tbsp very finely grated or chopped)
zest of two lemons (approx 1 generous tbsp very finely grated or chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 if using dark coloured baking sheets). Line the baking sheets with parchment.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla and zests mixing to incorporate.
Add the salt, cornmeal and flour. Mix to create a dough that pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and take a lump of the dough (enough to make a 2 inch round lump) and knead it together in your hands to meld the dough into a more solid mass. Using your hands like a rolling pin, roll the dough on a wooden cutting board to create a long thin tube of dough.
Cut off a six inch piece of the tube and gently fold into a U shape using your fingers to support the curve of the U as you bend the dough. (The dough has a tendency to crack and will crack during baking as well. Don’t fret – these are rustic cookies.) Allow one end of the U to be a little longer than the other. Fold the longer end over the shorter end. The two ends should end up approximately even looking in length.
Repeat until all the dough is used.
Bake for 17-22 minutes watching carefully and removing at the first sign of browning. If they cook too long they will be tasty but hard.
Makes approximately 60 cookies.