Polenta Biscuits – Lemon and Easter

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What better time of year is there to indulge yourself with buttery, sugary treats than Lent? To some Christians, this may sound slightly offensive but it’s not like anyone really takes Lent that seriously anymore, is it?
For many, pancakes are still the done thing on Shrove Tuesday to mark the start of Lent with the starvation that ensues for a few weeks before pigging-out on the millions of Easter eggs, baby lambs, and an unknown quantity of Simnel cake.
Indulging yourself with the festivities on Easter day is the norm, but the abstinence that proceeded it has largely been forgotten. Not surprising when everything is possible and available like never before…..if you’re lucky enough to be in the privileged half of the world.

These days with the possible health benefits of fasting to improve health, I wonder whether Lent was originally an ancient and practical method of fasting for good health, hijacked and dressed up as a religious event. There may actually be something worthwhile and scientifically beneficial to being abstemious for 40 days. I for one, am not into fasting or a practising Christian so this time of year life goes on as usual.

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of Easter biscuits in the supermarkets and shops. The enormous type with the serrated edges normally batched together in four or fives and wrapped in see though plastic. These biscuits used to be massive and imposing when I was a child and would curb a hungry boy’s appetite for several minutes at least. Although when dinner money funds allowed and you took possession of a the complete set of 4 (or 5) from the local bun and bread lady in exchange for 37 and 1/2p and proceed to eat one directly after the previous one until they are gone, then you might keep going all day on biscuit alone.  I’m currently experimenting with a gluten free diet so found the abundance of big, sweet, spicy biscuits a little distressing and frustrating. Today after catching a whiff of some freshly baked ones in Sainsburys, I decided to go home and do the right thing. I made some polenta Easter biscuits instead. These have a good crunch and crispness with a very appealing, slightly sandy texture. The lemon ones are great as an accompaniment to a sloppy desert or ice-cream to add some bite and texture, the Easter ones lovely just in their own right. I made one big batch of basic biscuit mix and halved it. Half for purely lemon biscuits and the other half for lemony Easter ones with mixed spice and currants.

INGREDIENTS (EASTER)

100g butter
100g demerara sugar
2 eggs
200g quick polenta
100g rice flour
zest of half lemon
small pinch of salt
100g currants 1/2 tps ground mixed spice

INGREDIENTS (LEMON)
100g butter
100g demerara sugar
2 eggs
150g quick polenta
50g rice flour
zest of half lemon

Preheat oven to 200C.
For both types of biscuits, mix all respective ingredients together in a large bowl until well amalgamated. Spoon into piping bag or tube with big hole and makes some shapes on a piece greaseproof paper on a large baking tray. Put in oven for 10-15 mins or until golden but this side of brown and then cool on wire rack to crisp up. Really simple and delicious. (Matthew)

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