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Recipe: lemon and juniper shortbread

I swear my mother wasn’t a total lush, but I do remember regularly enjoying a nice G&T with her when I got home from secondary school. Those who know me will perhaps beg to differ, but I don’t think it did me any harm at all. Giving a good airing to the day’s events over a cold gin and tonic with a slice of lemon is one of my fondest memories of my dear old mum. But, for those who aren’t quite down with sharing alcoholic drinks with their teenage offspring, might I suggest baking up a batch of these lemon and juniper shortbread cookies instead. They have the essence of a good G&T but are unlikely to damage your liver.


This recipe is inspired by memories of tea time with mum, and is an adaptation of the ever-reliable Rachel Allen’s oat and vanilla shortbread cookies. As you may have gleaned from my recent post about carrot, oat and apple muffins, I am keen to add oats to everything these days, and I think they give these shortbread biscuits a delicious added crunch. The lemon and juniper lend a subtle flavour of fragrant citrus, edged with a little smokiness coming from the pretty poppy seeds. I made these cookies using Sainsbury’s Basics range, making them a lot cheaper than a G&T to boot. If you’re feeling posh, however, they would make a welcome accompaniment to a zingy dessert of lemon posset.


Lemon and juniper shortbread cookies

Makes 20 biscuits

100g unsalted butter, soft
65g icing sugar
100g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
5 juniper berries, crushed
1 tsp lemon juice
50g oats
20g poppy seeds (or just enough to coat the outside)

Cube the butter and put in a large mixing bowl with the sieved icing sugar, beat to a smooth paste with electric beaters (or by hand, if you have the patience of a teetotaller and the upper body strength of a cocktail barman).

Sieve in the flour and baking powder and add the lemon zest and crushed juniper berries. I like to sieve the juniper too to avoid adding any large, bitter chunks. Beat the mixture again to a stiff paste, adding a teaspoon of lemon juice as you go.

Add the oats to the biscuit dough and knead so the oats are incorporated evenly throughout the mix.

On a clean worktop, roll the dough into an even sausage shape about 5cm in diameter. Pour the poppy seeds onto the worktop and roll the biscuit dough in the seeds to coat evenly. As you do this the sausage will get longer and leaner, make sure it doesn’t get much thinner than 3cm in diameter.

Roll the dough up carefully in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30-40 minutes.

While the dough is resting, pre-heat your oven to 180c.

Line a baking sheet in parchment paper and slice your biscuit dough into rounds about 5mm thick. Nip in the edges with your fingers and arrange evenly on the baking sheet, leaving 2-3cm between each.

Bake for 13-14 minutes until light brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve with a strong cup of tea, or as an accompaniment with a citrus dessert.


Thanks to Sainsbury’s for providing me with vouchers and samples of their Basics range for use in this recipe. Plain flour, unsalted butter and lemons are all available in the Basics range.


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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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