Lemon Sablés (French lemon butter cookies)

May 6, 2014 Published by Dina

I have been cooking my way through Laura Calder’s latest book Paris Express, Simple Food from the City of Style. I love Laura’s cooking and was very disappointed when her James Beard award winning cooking show French Food at Home ended on the Cooking Channel. It was informative, educational and fun to watch. Laura is beautiful, sophisticated, funny and an experienced and knowledgeable chef . She left a corporate career to pursue culinary education in Vancouver at the Dubrule Culinary Institute and later in France at the famous Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne with Anne Willan who I believe became her mentor. She has been prolific since with her TV cooking show and four books to date. Her books are a must have and this fourth one is another wonderful addition to any cookbook library. As I cook through the book I find it offers  sophisticated yet simple to prepare recipes with clean flavours and so far every one I made was a hit. I will feature a few of them on the blog in the next few weeks.


Lemon sables

Lemon sables

The recipe for this lemon sablés comes from The Paris Express and I wanted to share it with you. Sablés are French butter cookies, named after the French word for sand (sable), referring to their soft, sandy texture. It’s a good simple cookie dough to have in your repertoire. Cooks, like musicians, have a repertoire (of dishes) that they can perform (in the kitchen) and know how to prepare. You don’t need a large repertoire to be a good cook but it is important to have a few things you are comfortable with and can personalize to your own particular taste. This recipe can be varied by adding or changing some of the ingredients. You can add ground nuts, change the lemon and vanilla to other flavours (how about lavender?) and top them to suit your flight of fancy. I brushed gold leaf on top of each cookie for a festive look. Laura sprinkled them with golden sugar crystals and they look beautiful.

Everyone seems to like a good cookie and if you have a recipe for a good one you care to share I’d love to hear from you. My favourite cookies are the soft, chewy kind or the melt in your mouth buttery cookies like this sablé cookies. The kitchen somehow looks more inviting with a jar of cookies on the counter. I go through cookie baking peiods where I try different ways of making them in search for the perfect cookie. Then I move on to other things. I quite like the recipe I posted a while ago for two chocolate chocolate chip cookies but haven’t made them recently so I feel a cookie project coming on soon.

Enjoy this recipe.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on size.



Lemons sables

Lemons sables

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 2 lemons

2 cups flour

Edible gold leaf for garnish




Place the soft butter in a bowl and begin whipping it with mixer (I did it with hand held).

Add the sugar and continue mixing for a couple of minutes.

Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and mix to blend.

Start adding the flour, a quarter cup at a time, until it is all blended and a soft dough forms.

Gather the dough into a soft ball, place in a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight. To leave it overnight I suggest that you place plastic wrap directly over the dough and then cover the bowl with another sheet of plastic.

When you are ready to proceed remove from the fridge and allow the dough to soften to the point that you can roll it.

Dust the workspace with a little flour.

Cut the dough in half and work with one half at a time.

Roll the dough out into a 1/4 inch thickness, shape is not critical.

Cut the dough with a cookie cutter into desired shape.

Place the cut out cookies on a baking sheet lined with silpat (I place foil over the silpat). This keeps the cookies from darkening to fast on the bottom.

Decorate the top of the cookies by brushing some of the gold foil over or sprinkling them with sugar crystals.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven.

The cookies should be very light with just a golden edge to them.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Lemon sables

Lemon sables


Lemon sablés

Lemon sablés






  • Dee says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Laura Calder. I already found a couple of likely lil *jewels* on her website and am charmed by her writing.

    I’m kinda bummed that her Paris Express isn’t available in ebook format in US. It sounds more my speed (casual cook here). I pretty much buy only ebooks now because of my vision.

    My own chef favorite at the moment is Marcus Samuelsson. I seem to have fallen in love with him and his recipes even tho I have yet to make even one. I first heard of him at Deb Perelman’s blog, in her post about a fabulous bread she had at his restaurant and how excited she was to find the recipe on his website. I went to his site out of curiosity. Very quickly, my reaction was a loud shoutout to the universe, “Have mercy! This man cooks the way I love to eat!” I was totally enamored of the sound of his recipes. I have since bought “Marcus Off Duty,” a cookbook with a colorful format as eclectic as the recipes and the man himself. LOL.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to go on and on in your Comments. Just came back to explore your site further. Am salivating over the Singapore Slaw with Salted Apricot dressing. Gorgeous and far more ambitious than I usually care to do, but it sounds insanely good. Never tasted taro root, but do like all of the other ingredients. I’m definitely saving the recipe (and thanking you for it now). Who knows, one of these days, you may hear a shout coming from way down south in the US. :-0

  • Dee says:

    Fast response — thanks, Dina! *Now* I see that little magnifying glass up there — I miss it on many sites, I’m afraid. Guess I need things to jump out at me. I searched on Calder and see several more posts of her recipes which beckon. Groan, Salted aramel grabs me ieven faster than lemon! Never heard of her before; I’ll see whether library has her cookbook.. I’ll be back to explore your other posts, too, for sure I can tell I’m gonna like it here 🙂

    • Dina says:

      Thanks Dee. I am glad you mentioned that search bar. I am in the process of giving the blog a bit of a “face left” so I will think about that as well. Laura Calder is one of my favourite chefs/cookbook author and the salted caramel is a fabulous creation of her. I have made it many times. Her books are certainly worth having. Thanks for checking out the blog.

  • Dee says:

    Oooo, thanks. Have yet to make a sable but know I love sandy, shortbread kinda cookies. When I saw “lemon sable” pop up in my Google search, I couldn’t click fast enough. Lemon sweets ring my chimes even faster than chocolate! Can’t wait to try the recipe.

    Also looking forward to exploring your site. Is there a Search function? Can’t seem to find it and I’d like to take at look at some of the other Calder recipes you mention you would be posting. 🙂

    • Dina says:

      Hey Dee, nice to have you here. I am also a lemon fan. Yes, there is a search bar on the top right, to the right of Contact. I hope you find what you are looking for. Ciao ciao.

  • bellini says:

    I look forward to reading about more of her recipes. See you this weekend.

    • Dina says:

      Thanks Val, that salted caramel was wonderful but I didn’t get to photograph it before it was devoured. Have to make it again for the post. See you at the seminar.