I love sweet things that taste of lemon. You can give them to me over chocolate any day of the week. Not that I don’t love chocolate also, but that zesty tang has always been a favourite of mine. When I was a child I chose lemon curd over everything else to spread on my toast, and my grandmother always kept a jar in her pantry for my weekend visits. Perhaps it’s that childhood nostalgia that keeps me returning to that citrus flavour. Perhaps, to me at least, it tastes of weekends in the garden, climbing the apple tree and running around with my cousins. Or of Friday nights, tucked up in bed and being lovingly read to from comics that Nana would buy during the week for my sister and I. Taste and memory are mischievous allies: they lead each other down forgotten passageways and unlock dusty old doors.
So, with that yearning for familiar flavours, I set about creating this recipe. It’s a basic vegan and gluten-free drop cookie mix, with a healthy dose of lemon zest and juice. I’ve also used stem ginger, the kind you get in a jar with syrup (you can put a little of the syrup in with it as well, if you like). The ginger gives the cookies a good base flavour and helps to balance out the lemon. There’s no real need to get out fancy equipment for this recipe, as you can mix all of this with a wooden spoon. Just make sure your bowl is big enough, so that you don’t send cookie batter flying across the kitchen.
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Prep time: 20 minutes or so. Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Makes about 24 cookies.
300g vegan margarine
300g unrefined caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
3 tbsp golden syrup
75g (about 4 knobs) stem ginger in syrup, chopped into small pieces, plus a little of the syrup
300g plain gluten-free flour
100g coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp xantham gum
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
½ tsp salt
100ml vegan single cream
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C/350F and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Put the margarine and sugar in a bowl together and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a fluffy pale mixture (about 10 minutes). Add the vanilla extract and then grate the lemon zest, using the fine side of your grater, into the mixture. Squeeze the juice from the two lemons and then add the golden syrup. Mix until incorporated, then put in the chopped ginger pieces and a little of the syrup. Stir again to mix it all in.
In a separate bowl, combine the two flours, the baking powder, bicarb of soda, xantham gum, chia seeds (if using) and salt. Mix it all together to incorporate.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir thoroughly. Pour in the vegan cream and mix again, then leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Now dollop a heaped tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto your lined baking sheet, leaving a good space in between them as they will spread out. I managed to get 6 at a time on my sheet, but I was probably a bit over generous with the portion size. Flatten them a little with the back of the spoon so that they are not too deep when cooked. It’s actually easier to do this part with your hands, but it doesn’t give that rocky finished look.
Put your tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until crisp and golden. Turn the cookies out onto a cooling rack and leave to stand while you get on with the next batch. Continue until all the batter is gone.